Vote on Rousseff Accounts Still on as Brazil Files Complaint

Updated on
  • Government says minister on case should be suspended
  • Adverse ruling could help justify president's impeachment

Brazil’s audit court plans to vote Wednesday as scheduled on President Dilma Rousseff’s accounting practices even as the government calls for the sponsor of the case to be suspended.

The court, known as the TCU, will decide whether to uphold a report that says Rousseff broke Brazil’s finance law last year when she allegedly manipulated fiscal accounts. It then will send its recommendation to Congress, which will use the TCU’s report when voting whether to reject or accept the government accounts.

Attorney General Luis Inacio Adams said he will ask the court to suspend minister and case sponsor Augusto Nardes from the ruling, arguing he revealed his intention to vote against the government.

Opposition lawmakers have threatened to use a decision against Rousseff’s finances to justify her impeachment. Tension over the TCU’s session comes in a week when her newly-reformed Cabinet faces voting in Congress on spending bills she says would inflate the budget deficit. Also this week, Brazil’s top electoral court is scheduled to decide whether to open hearings on charges she illegally financed her re-election campaign. The decision could result in her removal from office. Rousseff and her party deny wrongdoing.

Government Complaint

Adams said he will personally present the government’s complaint to the TCU Monday afternoon. The government will take the case to the Supreme Court if the audit court issues its recommendation before considering his request to suspend Nardes, he said.

The court could vote on the attorney-general’s request Wednesday before the start of the extraordinary session on government accounts, according to Julio Marcelo de Oliveira, a prosecutor in the TCU. He said most court members want to resolve this case as soon as possible.

“This appears to be an attempt to delay the judgment,” Oliveira said by phone. “If the government wanted to question part of the case, it should have presented that complaint at the first moment possible, rather than waiting until days before the vote.”

Justice Minister Eduardo Cardozo and Adams told reporters over the weekend that Nardes shouldn’t have expressed his opinion on the case prior to the vote. Nardes has been saying publicly that he believes Rousseff broke the law by manipulating the 2014 fiscal accounts. The government says its accounting practices were legal and have been used by previous administrations.

“His opinion causes embarrassment to the court,” Adams said about Nardes.

Rousseff is trying to rebuild her coalition in Congress to fend off impeachment requests and bolster support for austerity measures. She handed the biggest party in Congress greater control of her government as part of a Cabinet shakeup announced last week.