Brazil’s ex-President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva has been convicted of corruption charges and sentenced to nine and a half years in jail.
The judge ruled Lula da Silva could remain free pending an appeal.
Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva has rejected claims that he received an apartment as a bribe in a corruption scandal linked to state oil company Petrobras.
The former leader says the trial is politically motivated and has strongly denied any wrongdoing.
The case is the first of five charges against Lula da Silva.
Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva served eight years as president until 2011 and has expressed interest in running again in the 2018 elections for the left-wing Workers’ Party.
Image source Wikimedia
On July 12, a judge found the former president guilty of accepting bribes from engineering company OAS in the form of a beachfront apartment in return for his help in winning contracts with the state oil company.
In a statement, his lawyers insisted he was innocent and said they would appeal.
“For more than three years Lula has been subject to a politically motivated investigation. No credible evidence of guilt has been produced, and overwhelming proof of his innocence blatantly ignored,” they wrote.
Brazil’s Congress has expelled ex-Speaker Eduardo Cunha after he denied having millions of dollars hidden in Swiss bank accounts.
Information from Swiss authorities proved the existence of the accounts.
Eduardo Cunha – seen as the architect of former President Dilma Rousseff’s impeachment – could now face arrest.
Dilma Rousseff was removed last month for moving funds between government budgets, which is illegal under Brazilian law.
During a bitter debate on September 12, Eduardo Cunha accused her supporters of seeking revenge against him.
Eduardo Cunha is also known as the “keeper of secrets” in Congress, where dozens of other politicians are also accused of fraud and has suggested he may cooperate with investigators into a wide ranging corruption scandal.
He is also being investigated by the Supreme Court for allegedly taking millions of dollars in bribes to secure contracts with state oil giant, Petrobras.
Petrobras is at the centre of a massive kickbacks scandal which cost the company $2 billion and has led to the arrest of dozens of lawmakers and top businessmen.
At least three businessmen have said under interrogation that they paid bribes to Eduardo Cunha, which they deposited in his overseas accounts.
Along with his seat, Eduardo Cunha has lost the partial immunity from prosecution that comes with being an elected representative.
In March 2015, Eduardo Cunha stated that he did not have “any type of account anywhere that is not declared on my income tax”.
However, the Swiss authorities later gave information to a corruption inquiry in Brazil stating that Eduardo Cunha and his wife, Claudia Cruz, were beneficiaries of secret accounts worth about $5 million.
Brazil’s suspended President Dilma Rousseff has condemned the move to impeach her as a “coup” and a “farce”, denying she has committed any crimes.
Dilma Rousseff, 68, was addressing the nation on TV for the first time since senators voted overnight to suspend her for budgetary violations and put her on trial.
She vowed to fight the “injustice” by all legal means.
Vice-President Michel Temer has now officially taken over as interim leader and has appointed a team.
Respected conservative Henrique Meirelles, who headed the central bank under leftist ex-President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, becomes finance minister.
Michel Temer will serve while Dilma Rousseff’s trial takes place. It may last up to 180 days, which would mean Dilma Rousseff would be suspended during the Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro, which start on August 5.
Brazil’s senators had voted to suspend her by 55 votes to 22 after an all-night session that lasted more than 20 hours.
Dilma Rousseff is accused of illegally manipulating finances to hide a growing public deficit ahead of her re-election in 2014.
In her TV speech, flanked by ministers at the presidential palace, Dilma Rousseff said that she may have made mistakes but had committed no crimes, adding: “I did not violate budgetary laws.”
She said: “What is at stake is respect for the ballot box, the sovereign will of the Brazilian people and the constitution.”
Branding the process “fraudulent” and saying her government was “undergoing sabotage”, Dilma Rousseff vowed to fight the charges against her and said she was confident she would be found innocent.
She accused the opposition of leading the impeachment because they had vehemently opposed all the advances she and her predecessor, Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, had made for the Brazilian poor and lower middle classes.
After her speech, Dilma Rousseff left the presidential palace and shook hands with supporters lining the pathway.
In another speech outside Dilma Rousseff told supporters she could feel their “love and energy” on what she called a “tragic” day for the country.
Meanwhile, Michel Temer has nominated a 21-strong cabinet.
Brazil’s Supreme Court has been asked by Attorney General Rodrigo Janot to authorize the start of corruption investigations against prominent opposition leader Aecio Neves.
Senator Aecio Neves, who narrowly lost the 2014 election to President Dilma Rousseff, was previously included in a list of some 50 politicians thought to have taken bribes originating from state-run companies, including electricity company Furnas.
The case is linked to the huge corruption scandal that has rocked Brazilian politics over the past year.
Aecio Neves denies any wrongdoing.
If the Supreme Court agrees to open an investigation, the senator will be called to testify within 90 days, Folha de Sao Paulo newspaper reported.
The case is based on allegations made by Senator Delcidio Amaral as part of a plea bargain.
A former leader of the Workers’ Party in the Senate, Delcidio Amaral was arrested in November.
Senator Delcidio Amaral had been secretly recorded allegedly discussing plans to help a detained official flee Brazil in return for not implicating him in a major corruption scandal at Petrobras.
He was released in February after he agreed to testify against other suspects.
Delcidio Amaral said that Aecio Neves had received bribes from officials at Furnas.
He said the scheme was similar to that operated at Petrobras: Brazil’s top construction companies paid bribes to politicians, political parties and senior executives at the company in order to secure lucrative overpriced contracts.
Aecio Neves’s office rejected the allegations, with an aide telling reporters: “References to Senator Aecio’s name are all based on hearsay. There is no proof or evidence of any irregularity.
“These are old questions that have already been the subject of previous investigations, which were thrown out, or questions that have no relation to the senator.”
Rodrigo Janot has also requested the opening of a corruption probe against other senior politicians and officials, the Speaker of the lower house of Congress, Eduardo Cunha, and President Dilma Rousseff’s press secretary Edinho Silva.
Brazil’s lower house, Chamber of Deputies, has voted to start impeachment proceedings against President Dilma Rousseff.
Dilma Rousseff is accused of manipulating government accounts.
The “yes” camp comfortably won the required two-thirds majority, after a lengthy session in the capital.
The motion will now go to the upper house, the Senate, which is expected to suspend Dilma Rousseff next month while it carries out a formal trial.
The 68-year-old president denies tampering with the accounts to help secure her re-election in 2014.
Her ruling Workers’ Party has promised to continue its fight to defend her “in the streets and in the Senate”.
Dilma Rousseff’s opponents secured 367 votes in the lower house – exceeding the 342-vote mark needed to send the motion to the Senate.
The “no” camp secured 167 votes, while seven other deputies abstained. Two deputies were not present during the voting.
Voting began after passionate statements from lawmakers and party leaders in a session broadcast live on television as well as on large screens in city centers.
If the Senate votes for impeachment, Dilma Rousseff will be put on trial in the upper chamber and will be removed from office permanently if found guilty. She has two opportunities to appeal during the whole process.
Hundreds of thousands of protesters watched the voting marathon on huge TV screens in cities across the country – Dilma Rousseff’s supporters wearing red and her opponents wearing the green and yellow of the Brazilian flag.
Some 25,000 protesters from both sides were outside the Congress building – separated by a makeshift 6.5ft high metal wall, that stretches for 0.6 miles.
The “yes” camp burst into celebrations even before the two-thirds of the votes had been secured.
The atmosphere has so far been peaceful and almost festive with music, fancy dress and people blowing trumpets and vuvuzelas.
Dilma Rousseff has vigorously denied any wrongdoing, and on April 16 wrote in one newspaper her opponents wanted to “convict an innocent woman and save the corrupt”.
Brazilian oil company Petrobras has announced it will cut 12,000 jobs by 2020.
The voluntary layoff program will help save $9 billion at the company, which has struggled with losses following a price-fixing and bribery scandal.
It has also been hit by the global slump in the price of oil.
Petrobras, which has reported losses for the last two financial years, is expected to spend $1.23 billion on implementing the job cuts plan.
The semi-public company has long been one of the biggest employers in Brazil, with more than 80,000 employees.
However, Petrobras has seen its business hit by the huge falls in oil prices globally and one of the biggest corruption scandals in the country’s history, which has gone to the heart of the country’s government.
Petrobras’ announcement that 12,000 jobs are to be cut over the next five years is part of a investment plan to turn around the company’s fortunes.
The oil producer reported its biggest quarterly loss to date in Q4 of 2015 – $10.2 billion – after losses at its oil fields and refinery projects.
The corruption scandal involving price-fixing, bribery and political kickbacks over the last two years has dented confidence in the business. Some former Petrobras executives have been jailed.
The scandal has also harmed the reputation of Brazil’sPresident Dilma Rousseff, who was on the board of the company at the time of the offences.
Dilma Rousseff is facing the possibility of impeachment on unrelated charges of false accounting.
Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff has said she will take legal action against Senator Delcidio Amaral who has accused her of involvement in corruption at the state oil company Petrobras.
Delcidio Amaral said Dilma Rousseff knew of wrongdoings and tried to block investigations.
Dilma Rousseff has denied any involvement.
Meanwhile, the new justice minister has threatened to remove teams from the Petrobras inquiry if any more material is leaked to the press.
In a statement, Brazil’s presidency said Dilma Rousseff will sue Senator Delcidio Amaral for defamation over his interview with a magazine.
Delcidio Amaral was the leader of her Workers’ Party in the Senate and had agreed a plea bargain with prosecutors after being arrested as a result of the Petrobras scandal.
The inquiry has led to the arrest or investigation of dozens of executives and politicians, suspected of overcharging for contracts with Petrobras and using part of the money to pay for bribes and electoral campaigns.
There is widespread public support for the investigation, known as Operation Car Wash, but Dilma Rousseff and her allies have criticized its leading judge, Sergio Moro.
They argue the inquiry has become politicized and some of his actions have been illegal.
Last week, Judge Sergio Moro released phone recordings suggesting Dilma Rousseff had appointed her predecessor Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva as her chief of staff to spare him arrest over money-laundering charges he denies.
Even though Dilma Rousseff vehemently denies it, Supreme Court judge Gilmar Mendes has suspended Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva’s nomination, and a final decision is yet to be announced.
If Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva is a minister, any charges against him can only be dealt with by the Supreme Court, which operates more slowly, and not by Sergio Moro.
Earlier this month, Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva was briefly detained and questioned at Sergio Moro’s request.
Dilma Rousseff’s supporters have also criticized leaks of questioning and details of the investigation to the media.
New Justice Minister Eugenio Aragao questioned the publication of the unverified phone tap conversations between Dilma Rousseff and Lula and said the Car Wash investigation was losing its objectivity.
The release of the recordings has also been criticized by Supreme Court judge Marco Aurelio Mello, who has questioned its legality.
However, the content of the phone calls has increased pressure on Dilma Rousseff, who is facing growing calls for her removal.
Additionally, there has been a resurgence in allegations of media bias against Dilma Rousseff and her Workers’ Party.
Much of the criticism has been against Globo, Brazil’s largest media group and one of the biggest in the world, allegations it denies.
In 2013, Globo issued an announcement about its support of the 1964 military coup, which led to a two-decade military dictatorship, and admitted it had made a “mistake”.
The appointment of Brazil’s ex-leader Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva as chief of staff to President Dilma Rousseff, has been blocked by a federal judge shortly after the former president was sworn in.
Judge Sergio Moro’s injunction said there was a risk a federal investigation could be derailed if Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva was a minister.
In Brazil, cabinet members can only be investigated by the Supreme Court, not by federal courts.
Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva is under investigation in connection with a corruption scandal.
Prosecutors filed charges against the former president last week accusing him of money laundering and fraud, which he has denied.
Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva’s nomination as chief of staff has divided Brazilians.
Some said it was a move to shield him from prosecution while others welcomed his return to active politics.
Ahead of the former leader’s swearing-in ceremony, groups of supporters and opponents of the government clashed outside the presidential palace.
The ceremony itself was interrupted by a protester who cried “Shame!”.
The protester was drowned out by supporters of the governing Workers’ Party, who shouted pro-government slogans and Lula’s name.
During the ceremony, President Dilma Rousseff praised Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, who she said was “not just a great politician, but a great friend and comrade of many battles”.
“We’ve always stood side by side,” she said.
A visibly angry Dilma Rousseff then criticised federal Judge Sergio Moro, who is leading the investigation into a massive corruption scandal at state-oil giant Petrobras.
On March 16, Judge Sergio Moro made public a taped phone conversation between President Dilma Rousseff and Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva which has been interpreted by some to show that Lula was given the post of chief of staff to shield him from prosecution.
In the conversation, Dilma Rousseff told her predecessor and mentor she would send him the official decree naming him as minister “just to use in case it’s necessary”.
The Brazilian president said Judge Sergio Moro had violated the law and the constitution by releasing the tape and that she would order an investigation.
Dilma Rousseff herself is under considerable political pressure.
Her critics want to impeach her over allegations she manipulated Brazil’s account books to hide a growing deficit.
Analysts say she named Lula chief of staff so he could use his influence with members of Congress to convince them to vote against her impeachment.
As more and more members of her Workers’ Party are being investigated over corruption at Petrobras, she is also facing increased questions about what Dilma Rousseff may have known.
Dilma Rousseff was head of the board at Petrobras from 2003 to 2010 and has always denied any wrongdoing.
On March 13, a record number of people took part in anti-government marches across Brazil.
An estimated three million people called for an end to corruption and for Dilma Rousseff’s impeachment.
There have also been rallies in support of the government, but they have been smaller than those opposing the administration.
The political upheaval comes at a time of economic problems, with Brazil going through its worst recession in more than three decades.
Brazil’s ex-leader Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva has been appointed as President Dilma Rousseff’s new chief of staff.
The move shields the former president from possible prosecution by a federal judge investigating a massive corruption scandal named Operation Car Wash.
Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva’s appointment sparked protests in several Brazilian cities by those angry at the decision.
However, President Dilma Rousseff said that protecting her mentor and predecessor from prosecution was not the motivation for the appointment.
“Lula’s arrival in my government strengthens it and there are people who don’t want it to be stronger,” she said.
Under Brazilian law, cabinet members can only be tried by the Supreme Court.
On March 4, Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva was briefly detained and questioned over allegations of money laundering connected to Operation Car Wash, a massive investigation into corruption at the state oil giant, Petrobras.
The former president denies the allegations and says they are aimed at preventing him from running for president again in 2018.
In a taped telephone conversation released by the judge overseeing the investigation, Dilma Rousseff offered to send Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva a copy of his appointment “in case of necessity” – interpreted by some as meaning in case he needed it to avoid arrest.
Hours after the announcement of his appointment, protesters gathered outside the Presidential Palace in Brasilia and in at least three other cities.
In Congress, opposition politicians gathered around a microphone during a chaotic session and chanted “resignation”.
Dilma Rousseff says the appointment is due to Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva being a “skilful political negotiator” and experienced leader who will help kick off economic recovery.
During his time in office, the Brazilian economy experienced unprecedented economic growth and wealth redistribution.
“I believe [former] President Lula, who was in charge of the country for eight years, cannot have his reputation destroyed in this manner,” added Dilma Rousseff.
Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva and other ministers appointed on March 16 are expected to be sworn in at 10:00 local time on March 17.
As chief of staff, Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva is expected to lead the fight against moves in Congress to impeach President Dilma Rousseff over allegations she manipulated Brazil’s account books to hide a growing deficit.
Brazil’s ex-president Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva has accepted a key ministerial role in President Dilma Rousseff’s government, media reports say.
Members of the governing Workers’ Party say Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva’s appointment will strengthen Dilma Rousseff’s beleaguered administration.
In becoming a minister, Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva will also have some legal protection.
Last week, prosecutors requested the former leader arrest in a money laundering inquiry over a luxury sea-front penthouse.
Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva has denied any wrongdoing and says the claims are politically motivated.
The reports, quoting unnamed sources, said Dilma Rousseff and the former president would meet in Brasilia on March 15. There has been no official comment.
Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva handpicked Dilma Rousseff as a candidate to succeed him in 2010, and has not ruled out running again in 2018.
Dilma Rousseff has faced increasing calls for her removal as a result of a corruption scandal at the state oil company Petrobras and Brazil’s worst recession in decades.
On March 13, hundreds of thousands of Brazilians took to the streets calling for her to go. But the president has repeatedly said she will not resign.
Dilma Rousseff could, however, face an impeachment process in Congress, accused of masking the budget deficit, which she denies.
One of Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva’s main tasks, the reports said, would be to negotiate with the main coalition partner in order to prevent an impeachment going ahead.
His appointment could also be seen as bringing some order to what many analysts consider a chaotic administration.
As a minister, Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva could only be tried in the Supreme Court, placing him out of the reach of the judge in the southern city of Curitiba responsible for the Petrobras investigation.
Brazil’s President Dilma Rousseff has refused to resign over her alleged mishandling of the economy after moves to impeach her.
Dilma Rousseff accused her opponents of causing a political crisis which she said had damaged the economy.
She also defended her predecessor, Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, over money-laundering allegations.
Dilma Rousseff said a prosecutors’ request for his detention had no legal basis.
The ongoing crisis has deepened the worst recession in decades in Brazil – Latin America’s biggest economy.
Dilma Rousseff said she had been democratically elected and had no intention of going.
The inquiry has implicated several business leaders and politicians close to the government including Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva.
Regional prosecutors in Sao Paulo want Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, 70, placed in “preventive custody” after charging him with failing to declare ownership of a luxury sea-front penthouse in the seaside resort of Guaruja.
They say this is necessary because he may try to obstruct the investigation. The request still has to be accepted or rejected by a judge.
The former president denies any wrongdoing and says the claims are politically motivated. He says he never owned the apartment.
His lawyer, Cristiano Zanin Martins, said Brazil’s ex-leader had invested in the project and had visited the unfinished apartment but later asked for his money back rather than receiving the property.
President Dilma Rousseff refused to comment on a possible cabinet job for Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva but said she would be proud to have him in her government.
Last week, the former president was briefly detained and questioned in a separate, federal investigation into whether extensive refurbishment on the penthouse had constituted favors in exchange for political benefit.
The renovations were carried out by one of Brazil’s biggest construction companies, OAS.
Officially the apartment belongs to OAS, which is itself accused of paying bribes to politicians and senior officials at state oil company Petrobras to secure lucrative contracts.
In addition, federal prosecutors are looking into allegations that Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva sold his influence in President Dilma Rousseff’s administration in exchange for donations to his Instituto Lula non-profit foundation.
Last week’s questioning of Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva led to criticism not only from his supporters but also from judges and politicians, who said it was unnecessary.
His supporters say the attacks on him are aimed at tarnishing his reputation, amid rumors that he may run for office again in 2018.
Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva was Brazil’s left-leaning president from 2003 to 2011 and was succeeded in office by his political protégé, Dilma Rousseff, who has record-low approval rates amid a serious economic crisis.
A former factory worker and union leader, Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva remains a very popular figure in Brazil despite the accusations against senior members of the Workers’ Party.
Brazil’s President Dilma Rousseff has visited ex-leader Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, a day after he was questioned over corruption allegations at the state oil company, Petrobras.
Dilma Rousseff appeared with Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva on the balcony of his apartment and waved to hundreds of people who had gathered below.
Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva has said his brief arrest on March 4 is part of a campaign to sully his image and that of Dilma Rousseff.
Police are looking into payments and donations made to Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva’s institute.
Some of Brazil’s wealthiest people as well as dozens of politicians from both the governing coalition and the opposition are also being investigated for involvement in the alleged Petrobras corruption scheme.
Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, a left-wing icon, left office in 2011. His Workers’ Party has been hit hard by the long-running scandal.
After his interrogation on March 4, he told reporters he was the victim of a “prejudice as a working-class man”.
Dilma Rousseff turned up at his home on March 5, along with hundreds of people showing support for the former president.
Today’s rally was peaceful in contrast to angry scenes on March 4 when protesters clashed with police outside the building.
“She is going to meet with Lula as a gesture of solidarity and support,” a press officer at the presidential palace told the Associated Press news agency.
Dilma Rousseff later could be seen on the balcony with Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva and his wife Marisa.
The Workers’ Party has held the Brazilian presidency since 2003, both under Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva and Dilma Rousseff.
In the latest operations, police enforced 33 search and 11 detention warrants in the states of Rio de Janeiro, Sao Paulo and Bahia, officials said.
Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, 70, is suspected of receiving about 30 million reais ($8 million) in speaking fees and donations to his charity.
The former president’s home was among the premises targeted, as was the headquarters of the institute in Sao Paulo.
Brazil’s ex-President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva has been arrested as part of a huge fraud inquiry into the state oil company Petrobras.
His house was raided by federal police agents and he was brought in for questioning.
Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, who left office in 2011, has denied allegations of corruption.
The long-running inquiry, known as Operation Car Wash, is probing accusations of corruption and money laundering at Petrobras.
Dozens of Brazilian executives and politicians have been arrested or are under investigation on suspicion of overcharging contracts with Petrobras and using part of the money to pay for bribes and electoral campaigns.
Police said they had evidence that Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, 70, received illicit benefits from the kickback scheme.
His institute said in a statement the “violence” against the former president was “arbitrary, illegal and unjustifiable”, as he had been co-operating with the investigations.
Officials said some 33 search warrants and 11 detention warrants were being carried out by 200 federal police agents in the states of Rio de Janeiro, Sao Paulo and Bahia.
Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva’s house in Sao Bernardo do Campo, near Sao Paulo, was raided early on Friday. The headquarters of his institute in Sao Paulo was also targeted, as were his wife, Marisa, and sons, reports said.
One of the lines of inquiry is that construction companies targeted by the operation could have favored Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva in the development of a ranch and a luxury beachfront apartment.
Raids in the cities where these properties are located have also been carried out.
“Ex-president Lula, besides being party leader, was the one ultimately responsible for the decision on who would be the directors at Petrobras and was one of the main beneficiaries of these crimes,” a police statement quoted by Reuters news agency said.
“There is evidence that the crimes enriched him and financed electoral campaigns and the treasury of his political group.”
Supporters and opponents of the former president clashed in front of his house following the raids.
Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, from the Workers’ Party, served two terms as president and was succeeded in office by his political protégé, Dilma Rousseff.
He led Brazil during a time of rapid economic growth and is credited for lifting millions of people out of poverty.
Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva still is a well-liked figure and has been considered as a potential candidate in presidential elections in 2018. However, his popularity has been hit by recent allegations that he either had knowledge or involvement in the wrongdoings.
On March 3, Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva’s institute said the former president had never committed any illegal acts before, during or after his presidential term.
The corruption scandal threatens the government of Dilma Rousseff, who has faced repeated impeachment calls, analysts say.
Dilma Rousseff has denied having any knowledge of wrongdoings.
Brazil’s economy shrank by 3.8% in 2015, according to the national statistics agency IBGE.
The world’s seventh-largest economy has fallen sharply in recent months due partly to low commodity prices and sluggish global growth.
Political paralysis has hampered Brazil’s efforts to tackle its economic problems, including a budget deficit that has reached 10.8% of GDP.
President Dilma Rousseff is trying to head off the opposition’s efforts to impeach her over alleged accounting irregularities, which means she cannot afford to alienate supporters in her Workers’ Party by cutting spending or raising taxes.
Investigations are also continuing into a high-level bribery and corruption scandal involving major construction projects.
Dilma Rousseff’s predecessor as president, fellow Workers’ Party politician Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, is one of the people under investigation.
Brazil’s economic performance in 2015 vies with that of Russia as the worst in a major economy for 2015. Official figures for Russia’s 2015 GDP have not yet been released.
It was also Brazil’s worst set of figures since 1990.
Analysts say Brazil is now caught in a classic case of stagflation – a combination of high inflation and a recession.
On March 2, policymakers at Brazil’s central bank voted to keep the benchmark Selic interest rate at its current level of 14.25%.
High interest rates have traditionally been used in Brazil as a policy tool to keep inflation in check. However, inflation has surged in any case, now standing at 11%, while high rates are hurting businesses.
Brazil’s Finance Minister Joaquim Levy has resigned as Latin America’s largest economy struggles to recover from recession.
Joaquim Levy has decided to leave after disagreements with President Dilma Rousseff and the governing Worker’s Party over his austerity policies.
He is being replaced by a close ally of Dilma Rousseff, the current Planning Minister Nelson Barbosa.
Brazil is facing its worst recession in 25 years.
In a statement, Joaquim Levy said he remained confident that the economy could recover in 2016.
“Time will show that we will reap the results of all that has been done this year, putting the Brazilian economy back on track,” he wrote.
Brazil’s economy shrank by 1.7% in Q3 of 2015 compared with Q2. Compared with a year ago, the economy is 4.5% smaller.
Inflation is also on the rise, with the annual rate hitting 10% in November 2015.
Joaquim Levy’s resignation is a huge blow to those who advocated tougher budgets and limited austerity to tackle Brazil’s deepening economic crisis.
His attempts to tighten government budgets were repeatedly blocked by Worker’s Party stalwarts in Congress.
The new minister says he will keep a tight control on public spending.
Nelson Barbosa: “If we control government spending we will manage to control public debt and we will eventually be able to reduce public debt.”
Inflation is expected to begin falling next year, he added.
President Dilma Rousseff gave no reason for Joaquim Levy’s departure.
The change comes amid a serious political crisis in Brazil.
Earlier this month the Speaker of the lower house of Congress, Eduardo Cunha, agreed to begin impeachment proceedings against President Dilma Rousseff over alleged irregularities in the management of last year’s budget.
On December 18, however, the Supreme Court handed Dilma Rousseff an important victory.
It scrapped a commission set up to deal with impeachment proceedings against the president, in a major setback for the opposition.
The court also gave more powers to the government-controlled Senate to block the impeachment process.
The ruling means that proceedings initiated earlier this month will have to start from scratch.
Brazil’s President Dilma Rousseff has accused her political opponents of seeking to oust her government by “coup-mongering”.
Speaking at a meeting of union leaders in Sao Paulo on October 13, Dilma Rousseff also said the opposition was spreading hatred and intolerance across Brazil.
Dilma Rousseff’s comments come after an audit court last week ruled that she broke the law in managing last year’s budget.
The opposition says this could pave the way for impeachment proceedings.
President Dilma Rousseff was re-elected less than a year ago but currently has record low popularity ratings.
Addressing the gathering, Dilma Rousseff accused the opposition of practicing “deliberate coup-mongering” against a “project that has successfully lifted millions of Brazilians out of poverty”.
“The artificiality of their arguments is absolute, their poisoning of people in social networks, their relentless game of <<the worse she does, the better for us>>,” she was quoted as saying by Reuters.
Dilma Rousseff’s remarks follow the ruling of the Federal Accounts Court on accusations that the government borrowed money illegally from state banks to make up for budget shortfalls.
The minister who handled the case in the court, Augusto Nardes, said the government disregarded fiscal and constitutional principles in the handling of the 2014 accounts.
The irregularities amount to more than 100 billion reais ($26 billion), according to the court.
The opposition said after the ruling it would seek impeachment proceedings in the Congress.
Also last week, Brazil’s top electoral authority said it would re-open an investigation into alleged misuse of funds during Dilma Rousseff’s re-election campaign.
The Brazilian economy has gone into recession and is expected to shrink by 3% in 2015.
The government’s popularity has fallen amid corruption scandals involving senior politicians from Dilma Rousseff’s Workers’ Party and other coalition members.