Brazilian President Michel Temer on Monday pledged to oust members of his cabinet charged with wrongdoing in connection with Operation Car Wash, a wide-ranging investigation into government corruption.
“If there’s an evidence that may subsequently be accepted, then the ministers accused under Operation Car Wash will be temporarily ousted. If the accusation is proven … their ouster becomes permanent,” Xinhua news agency quoted Temer as saying at a press conference at the presidential headquarters in Brasilia.
“The government does not want to and will not shield anyone”, neither will it definitively remove a minister based on “mere mention” of illicit activity, said Temer.
Temer was forced to defend his administration’s commitment to fighting corruption after he made a controversial appointment earlier this month, nominating a close aide and a suspect in the investigation Wellington Moreira Franco to be General Secretary of the Presidency, a cabinet-level post.
Brazil’s construction giant Odebrecht has admitted doling out millions of dollars in bribes to some 200 officials to secure public works contracts, including Moreira.
Promoting Moreira from close adviser to cabinet member affords him more protections under the law should he be charged with bribery, local analysts said.
“With the cabinet post, Moreira Franco has advantages if he is ever charged … the official can no longer be judged by federal prosecutors, but rather only by the Supreme Court,” the English-language local newspaper the Rio Times said.