Paulo Prada – WSJ, 10/26/2011
The country’s sports minister resigned on Wednesday amid a corruption probe that has roiled the scandal-plagued administration of President Dilma Rousseff and renewed concerns over Brazil’s preparations to host the World Cup of soccer and Olympic games later this decade.
Orlando Silva, the minister, stepped down following allegations, first disclosed in a Brazilian newsweekly this month, that public funds for ministry social projects were kicked back to the minister and numerous associates in exchange for contracts. Mr. Silva, according to the reports, allegedly personally received money in the ministry parking lot and was aware of millions of dollars worth of similar payments to Communist Party colleagues. The party is part of a restive coalition that supports Ms. Rousseff’s ruling Workers Party in exchange for cabinet positions and other senior appointments.
Mr. Silva, who has denied any wrongdoing, weathered the storm until Tuesday, when Brazil’s Supreme Court said it would probe the allegations. Ms. Rousseff’s request for Mr. Silva’s resignation marks something of an about-face for Ms. Rousseff, who last Friday met with Mr. Silva to discuss the allegations and later issued a statement of support on his behalf. A person familiar with the discussion said Ms. Rousseff, who had just returned from a weeklong trip abroad at the time of the meeting, needed more time to assess the allegations and consider possible successors.