The wave of corruption shell shocking the Brazilian government reached Communications Minister Luiz Gushiken on Thursday when it was revealed that a consulting firm which formerly belonged to the minister has enjoyed skyrocketing revenues since President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva took office.
Mr. Gushiken, 52, was one of the coordinators of Lula's winning 2002 presidential election campaign, and one of the president's closest friends. The two have been acquainted since the seventies.
The minister was the owner of Globalprev, an insurance consultancy that operates out of the house in a city in Sao Paulo state where he lived with his family until he accepted the communications portfolio and apparently left the firm.
According to financial reports, in 2002, when President Lula was campaigning for president, Globalprev had revenues of 151,000 Reais (about 45,000 US dollars), but that sum soared to 1.05 million Reais (420,000 US dollars) during the first year of the former union leader's administration.
Just between January and May of this year, the company billed 968,000 reais (388,000 US dollars), according to tax authorities.
The exposure adds to the money and bribes scandal involving top officials of Lula da Silva's administration and leaders of the leftist Workers Party, PT, he founded in 1980 and supposedly was immune to corruption practices so common in Brazilian politics.
Mr. Gushiken already had been mentioned in previous claims of wrongdoing in government owned companies which allegedly collected money to bribe Congressional support for the Lula administration legislative agenda.
Sao Paulo political sources indicate that charges against Mr. Gushiken have caused great disillusion to President Lula who may now be forced to sack his old friend as part of the Cabinet reshuffle began last Tuesday with the appointment of three ministers from a centre-right party in hopes of shoring up the administration.
Lula's Cabinet Chief Jose Dirceu and all major posts in the Workers Party executive have resigned following the claims.
The avalanche of scandals, which seem endless, have triggered opposition interest in next year's presidential election, an election which only a month ago seemed a one man race confirming Mr. Lula da Silva's second four year term.