Brazil minister under investigation

Police investigate Silas Rondeau over accusations of embezzling money.

    Silas Rondeau has played a started a number
    of infrastructure projects in Brazil [AFP]

    Operation Razor

       

    Police have already arrested 50 people for siphoning money from infrastructure projects, including Rondeau's senior adviser - in what was dubbed Operation Razor.

       

    The crackdown has raised concerns over Lula's $250bn, four-year plan on public and private investment in roads, railways and airports.

     

    The plan has also included controversial hydroelectric plants in the Amazon region.

       

    Rondeau would be the first minister of Lula's second term, which started in January, to quit over corruption allegations.

       

    Previous scandals including bribery and vote-buying in congress ousted two ministers in Lula's first term, Jose Dirceu, his then chief-of-staff and Antonio Palocci, the finance minister.

       

    Lula has denied involvement in the alleged corruption schemes and insists that federal police are free to investigate any leads they have.

         

    Large budget

     

    Rondeau commands a large budget, makes policy on Brazil's leading bio-fuels programme, and sits on the board of state-controlled oil company Petrobras.

       

    Federal police said they suspected he may have received a $51,000 kickback from a construction company that won a government contract to bring electricity to poor households.

       

    Tarso Genro, the justice minister, confirmed the investigation but said there was no proof directly implicating Rondeau.

       

    Adriano Pires, head of the Brazilian Centre for Infrastructure consultancy, said the government should move quickly to replace Rondeau if he is forced to quit.

       

    "The electricity sector already has investment problems, delayed projects, infighting over environmental permits. Everyone is worried about possible power shortages," he said.

    SOURCE: Agencies


    YOU MIGHT ALSO LIKE

    How Moscow lost Riyadh in 1938

    How Moscow lost Riyadh in 1938

    Russian-Saudi relations could be very different today, if Stalin hadn't killed the Soviet ambassador to Saudi Arabia.

    Interactive: Coding like a girl

    Interactive: Coding like a girl

    What obstacles do young women in technology have to overcome to achieve their dreams? Play this retro game to find out.

    The War in October: What Happened in 1973?

    The War in October: What Happened in 1973?

    Al Jazeera examines three weeks of war from which both Arabs and Israelis claimed to emerge victorious.