[JURIST] Brazil’s Supreme Court [official website, in Portuguese] on Thursday ruled [transcript, PDF] on two measures to set the stage for impeachment proceedings against President Dilma Rousseff [BBC backgrounder]. The first ruling requires the re-formation of a congressional committee set up to guide Rousseff’s impeachment through Congress. The committee, set up in a secret lower-house ballot last week, was stacked with proponents of Rousseff’s impeachment. The second ruling gives the Senate power to review a lower house vote for impeachment. These measures make Rousseff’s impeachment less likely, to the chagrin of her political rivals who say Rousseff manipulated budget reports to hide a growing deficit. If it is determined that Rousseff did manipulate budget figures, it could amount to a crime under Brazil’s Fiscal Responsibility Law. To quash the lower house impeachment proceedings, the president would have to obtain at least 171 of 513 possible votes.
Brazil has been the subject of several corruption scandals in both politics and business in recent years. In October Brazil’s Federal Accounts Court determined [JURIST report] that Rousseff’s government accounting practices were illegal. In September a Brazilian court sentenced [JURIST report] former treasurer of the country’s governing Worker’s Party Joao Vaccari Neto to 15 years and four months in jail for charges stemming from his connection to the Petrobras corruption scandal. Vaccari was found guilty of corruption, money laundering and conspiracy, having accepted at least USD $1 million in bribes from the oil company. Earlier in September the Federal Supreme Court of Brazil banned [JURIST report] corporate entities from providing funding to political candidates in the future in an attempt to prevent further corruption, calling the practice unconstitutional.