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Brazil minister resigns amid bid-rigging, embezzlement scandal

Brazil minister resigns amid bid-rigging, embezzlement scandal

Brazil's mines and energy minister resigned Tuesday amid a bid-rigging and embezzlement scandal involving a construction company that provides electricity to poor rural areas.
The scandal involves allegations Mines and Energy Minister Silas Rondeau, as head of the "Lights for Everyone" that brings electricity to poor families in remote areas, accepted money to steer a contract to the construction company Gautama.
Rondeau denies any wrongdoing. And even though the rural electrical program is backed by President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, it is considered unlikely the resignation will hurt Silva since Rondeau is not part of the populist president's inner circle.
"I reaffirm my complete and absolute innocence in relation to the accusations levied against me," Rondeau said in a brief statement in which he tendered his resignation.
The president's office said Silva would replace Rondeau with the ministry's secretary-general, Nelson Hubner.
Rondeau is a member of the Brazilian Democratic Movement Party, a partner in Silva's 11-party government.
Local media have reported that police have evidence showing that Rondeau accepted US$50,000 (euro37,000) to steer a contract to Gautama.
The scandal surfaced last week when police broke up a ring that illegally siphoned off government money through fraudulent bidding on public projects, arresting suspects including a congressman and a former state governor.
Authorities said the ring illegally billed federal and local agencies for projects that were overcharged or simply never built.
Police said the ring obtained funds from the ministries of planning, transportation, and energy and mines.
Authorities said government officials who helped steer the contracts to the gang were paid off in cash and gifts such as luxury cars.


Updated : 2021-10-26 09:32 GMT+08:00