RIO DE JANEIRO (Reuters) - The chief executive of Itau Unibanco Holding SA, Brazil’s biggest bank by market value, said he does not yet see justification for President Dilma Rousseff to be impeached.
Last week hundreds of thousands of Brazilians demonstrated against Rousseff’s government and an opinion poll showed two thirds of those questioned said they would support her impeachment. Political rivals have sought to lay the groundwork in Congress to remove her from office.
But an interview published on Sunday, Itau’s Roberto Egydio Setubal said: “Nothing I have seen or heard until now makes me believe there are conditions for impeachment.”
Hobbled by an economy believed to be in recession, political gridlock that has slowed efforts to restore growth, and a corruption scandal over state-run energy company Petroleo Brasileiro SA, or Petrobras, Brazil is currently facing its biggest economic and political crisis in three decades.
But Setubal is one of a growing number of prominent business people who say Rousseff’s impeachment would just stoke instability..
He said told the Folha de S. Paulo newspaper there was not enough evidence to link her to a massive kickback scandal around Petrobras, and that accounting tricks in the government’s 2014 budget, now under scrutiny by a federal auditor, aren’t severe enough to justify her removal either.
“That might deserve some form of punishment,” he said, “but it doesn’t to me seem reason to topple the president.”
In the interview, Setubal also said current efforts by Joaquim Levy, Brazil’s finance minister, to slash government spending and pursue pro-growth measures in Congress would take time to bear fruit and the rest of Brazil’s government should rally behind Levy.
“He’s doing the right things, but the positive effects haven’t arrived,” Setubal said. “He needs political support from both the president and Congress.”
Brazil also needs to pursue other long-pending measures, such as a labor reform and an overhaul of political laws, to make Latin America’s biggest economy more efficient, Setubal said.
He backed interest-rate hikes by the central bank to curb still-climbing inflation. “It’s hard to say when is the right moment to cut rates, but I don’t believe it is now,” he said.
Spokespeople for Itau were not immediately available Sunday for comment.
Reporting by Paulo Prada; Editing by Ruth Pitchford