Brazilian Sports Minister left fighting for future after corruption allegations

Monday, 17 October 2011
By Tom Degun in Guadalajara

Orlando Silva_at_World_Cup_draw_July_29_2011October 17 - Brazilian Sports Minister Orlando Silva has been left fighting for his job following serious corruption allegations that he has been involved in the embezzlement of millions of dollars in public funds.

Brazilian magazine Veja published detailed allegations that he took cash from a scheme called "Second Half" which actively promotes sport for disadvantaged children across the country.

The allegations claim that Silva aimed to embezzle as much as $23 million (£14.6 million/€16.7 million) over eight years from the project.

Silva was part of a senior Brazilian delegation here that was attending the Pan American Games that began last Friday (October 14) but has rushed back to Brazil to defend his reputation and deny the allegations put against him.

"I vehemently repudiate the falsehoods published this weekend," said Silva at a press conference organised upon his return to Brazil.

"It is unacceptable that lies from discredited people, whose sources are criminals, should have the repercussions they are having."

He added that he will be requesting that the police and prosecutors investigate the allegations from the magazine.

Silva's role in the Brazilian Government has taken on added significance in recent years due to the fact that the country is hosting both the FIFA 2014 World Cup as well as Rio 2016 Olympic and Paralympic Games.

Silva was named Sports Minister by former President Luis Inacio Lula da Silva back in 2006 and is currently the only Minister from Brazil's Communist Party that is part of President Dilma Rousseff's Coalition Party.

Rousseff has advocated a zero tolerance approach to corruption since taking over as Brazilian President in January this year but has given her backing to Silva saying that she "presumed his innocence" but that "the Government is closely following these accusations, explanations and investigations."

Rio 2016 President Carlos Nuzman, who is still here attending the Pan American Games, also gave his support to Silva.

"I haven't heard much about the allegations at this stage but the Minister is excellent and our relationship with him is very good," said Nuzman.

"That's all I have to say at this stage."

The corruption allegations are the latest in a series to hit the cabinet of Rousseff since she took over with four Ministers having resigned or been sacked after being accused of corruption, although all denied wrongdoing.

Contact the writer of this story at tom.degun@insidethegames.biz
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