SAO PAULO – The speaker of the lower house in Brazil's Congress faced new efforts Wednesday to strip him of his office or put him behind bars.
The Chamber of Deputies' Ethics Committee approved an investigation into whether Eduardo Cunha should lose his post for lying to a congressional hearing by denying he held bank accounts overseas. Swiss prosecutors later located accounts held by Cunha.
An earlier attempt to start an investigation was blocked by an ally of the speaker.
Meanwhile, six of the Supreme Court's 11 justices voted to allow criminal proceedings against Cunha for allegedly participating in the sprawling corruption scheme at state-run oil company Petrobras, which ran for over a decade and in which billions in bribes were allegedly paid.
Although a majority of judges voted in favor, the court's decision will not be final until Thursday, when the other five justices will vote. The six who voted Wednesday can change their votes until the decision becomes official.
Under Brazilian law, charges against federal congressmen and other top government officials can only be filed and judged by the Supreme Court.
Prosecutors alleged that Cunha accepted $5 million in bribes between 2006 and 2012 in connection with the construction of two Petrobras drilling ships. He is charged with corruption and money laundering.
Cunha has denied any wrongdoing. After Wednesday's Supreme Court session, he told reporters: "Truth is on my side. I am innocent."
Prosecutors say more than $2 billion was paid in bribes by businessmen to obtain Petrobras contracts. Investigators also have said that some of the money made its way to several political parties, including the governing Workers' Party.