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Last Updated: Friday, 2 September 2005, 05:23 GMT 06:23 UK
Brazil MPs face corruption claims
By Steve Kingstone
BBC News, Sao Paulo

Jose Dirceu
Jose Dirceu served as chief of staff to Brazil's President Lula
A congressional inquiry into political corruption in Brazil has recommended that 18 MPs be expelled from the country's parliament.

The disciplinary measures were approved by two committees on Thursday evening after several weeks of hearings.

The accused have been linked to an scheme in which the governing Workers Party illegally paid MPs allegedly in return for political support.

The former chief of staff to Brazil's president is among those accused.

Little by little these hearings have uncovered corruption at the very heart of Brazil's political system.

Initially the governing Workers Party denied any wrongdoing, but it has since emerged that it channelled millions of dollars in undeclared funds to some of its own MPs and to MPs of other parties who supported its legislative programme.


In its report, the investigating committee says Brazil's parliament must now cut off its own flesh to win back public trust.

It names 18 MPs from six parties who will face a disciplinary process which could end in their expulsion.

The most high-profile name is that of Jose Dirceu, a Workers Party MP who until this scandal broke was chief of staff to President Luis Inacio Lula da Silva.

Mr Jose is said to have organised the funding scheme from within the presidential palace, an allegation he strongly denies.

Most of the other accused have said the money they received was used to pay off campaign debts.

But the committee report questions that, suggesting that at least some of the cash may have been pocketed by the politicians in return for their loyalty during key parliamentary votes.

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