By Tom Degun in Guadalajara

Orlando Silva_with_Brazilian_newspaperOctober 25 - In the latest twist in the corruption scandal crisis revolving around Brazilian Sports Minister Orlando Silva, the country's Supreme Federal Court confirmed that it has opened a formal investigation into the serious allegations against him.

Silva has been left hanging to his high-ranking position by a thread after the allegations - published in Veja magazine - alleged he aimed to embezzle around $23 million (£15 million/€17 million) for himself and his Communist party over eight years by allegedly awarding fraudulent Government contracts for a number of projects, including one that promotes sport for poor children.

The Sports Minister rushed back to Brazil from the Pan American Games here last week to defend himself against the claims but has been met with further accusations, including one published in Brazilian national newspaper Estado de Sao Paulo that claimed to have seen documents showing that Silva's wife received public money from a Non-Governmental Organisation (NGO) controlled by members of Silva's Communist Party.

Silva has continually hit back at the accusations and has continually declared that there is "no proof" of wrongdoing against him.

But his claims have not deterred a formal investigation after Supreme Court Judge Carmen Rocha asked the Ministry and Federal accounting bodies to turn over any relevant information.

The Supreme Court confirmed the investigation was opened at the Attorney General's request.

The move signals that Silva is in real jeopardy of losing his position which would have major repercussions on both the FIFA 2014 World Cup and Rio 2016 Olympic and Paralympic Games - which Brazil are hosting - due to the fact that he is the Government lead on both projects.

Silva has been involved in both global sporting events since their infancy after being named Sports Minister by former President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva back in 2006 and he is currently the only Minister from Brazil's Communist Party that is part of President Dilma Rousseff's Coalition Party which came to power at the beginning of the year.

Rousseff has so far backed her Sports Minister saying that "the Government doesn't condemn anyone without proof" but it is becoming increasingly difficult to see a way back for Silva amid the political storm.

Communist supporters suggest the allegations against Silva are part of a conspiracy by the Coalition Party to take control of the Sports Ministry because of the huge clout it has gained because of the fact that Brazil will soon host two major global sporting events but has Rousseff denied such suggestions.

Should he loose the support of the President and be dismissed, Silva would be the fifth Minister to resign in or been sacked after being accused of corruption since Rousseff came to power in January.

Rousseff is known to have a zero-tolerance policy towards corruption which is part of the reason that the four senior Ministers have left her Government but despite the scandals, she still enjoys 71 per cent popularity ratings and is perceived as a leader able to tackle corruption.

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