Brazil labor minister may be forced out amid scandal

RIO DE JANEIRO Sun Dec 4, 2011 9:39pm IST

Brazil's Labor Minister Carlos Lupi reacts as he talks about allegations of irregularities in Ministry's of Labor during a meeting of the Commission for Financial Supervision and Control of the Chamber of Deputies in Brasilia November 10, 2011. REUTERS/Ueslei Marcelino/Files

Brazil's Labor Minister Carlos Lupi reacts as he talks about allegations of irregularities in Ministry's of Labor during a meeting of the Commission for Financial Supervision and Control of the Chamber of Deputies in Brasilia November 10, 2011.

Credit: Reuters/Ueslei Marcelino/Files

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RIO DE JANEIRO (Reuters) - Brazil's Labor Minister Carlos Lupi may be forced to resign within days over mounting corruption allegations in the latest scandal-driven departure from President Dilma Rousseff's cabinet, the Folha de S. Paulo newspaper reported on Sunday.

Rousseff is expected to tell Lupi on Sunday or Monday that his presence in the government is untenable, the newspaper said.

She has lost six of 32 ministers since taking office in January and five of those due to scandals involving alleged corruption. The departures have weakened her relations with coalition parties in Congress she needs to pass an ambitious program of social legislation and infrastructure spending.

Most of the departing ministers were holdovers from the two-term government of her Workers' Party predecessor and mentor Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva.

Pressure on Lupi, who has said "only a bullet" could remove him from office, reached a peak on Wednesday when the Public Ethics Committee of the Brazilian Presidency unanimously recommended he be fired for gross mismanagement.

The committee's investigation, along with a probe in Congress, came after the news magazine Veja reported in November that Lupi aides allegedly demanded kickbacks from charities and other nongovernmental organizations as a condition of receiving funding from the ministry, Folha reported.

Lupi also allegedly favored NGOs linked to his PDT Brazilian Workers' Party and received free air travel aboard an airplane owned by the head of an NGO financed by the ministry. After denying knowing the NGO chief, TV news agencies showed video of the two men together at public events along with the plane, the newspaper said.

The latest allegation is that Lupi received a salary as a federal congressional employee for six years while at the same time serving, and receiving a salary, as a representative in the state legislature of Rio de Janeiro, Folha reported.

The practice that is illegal under Brazilian law aimed at preventing so-called "double-dipping."

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