Dilma’s reelection campaign may have been financed by money diverted from Petrobras
The Minister of the Superior Electoral Tribunal (TSE) of Brazil,Gilmar Mendes,seems to have detected signs that the reelection campaign of President Dilma Rousseff received money diverted from Petrobras. Should this fact be confirmed, it could start criminal proceedings that may in fact result in the Dilma’s removal from the presidency.
“I consider it essential to inform the competent authorities about the evidence of illegal electoral practicesand crimesthat may be prosecuted,”highlighted Mendes in a letter he wrote on Friday and that he sent to the Attorney General’s Office, the Federal Police and the General Electoral Council, which has requestedthat the complaint be investigated.
According to the website of the newspaper O Estado de Sao Paulo, Mendes’document is based on information provided by Ricardo Pessoa, owner of UTC, a construction contractor who wasarrested for his links to the illegal movement of money in the scandal that shookPetrobras, the state oil company.
As part of a partnership with investigators, Pessoa says he donated 7.5 million reals, around $2.2 million, toRousseff’s election campaign in 2014, when she beat her opponent Aécio Neves in a second round election.
The site of the newspaper Folha de Sao Paulosays thatMendes adds that Mendes recommended to the Attorney General, Rodrigo Janot, to openan investigationbased on the suspicion that the Rousseff campaign committed the crimes of money laundering and misrepresentation.
The Electoral Council has called on the Attorney General to investigate whether there is any irregularity in accountingrelatedto the October elections by the ruling Workers Party (PT).The finances of the Rousseff reelection campaign were tried and approved with objections in December 2014.
Mendes was the rapporteur of that looked into the accounting, and who kept open the process toinvestigate possible irregularities.
“It is important to point out that after auditing the accounts of the candidate and the party in December 2014, taking into consideration the alleged web of corruption that occurred in Petrobras, details havebeen made public about theuse of campaign donations as a subterfugeto pay for bribes,” Mendes said.
The judge suspected that “money received by companies that held contracts with Petrobras have been allegedly returned in the form of bribes to PT in theform of campaign donationsdirectly delivered to its Treasurer, Joao Vaccari Neto, who is imprisoned for his links with the Petrobras case”specified Mendes.
This is an indirect financing of the campaign, via Petrobras, which is banned from donating money due to the nature of its origin. The practice violates the Law of Political Parties. “The Workers’ Party was indirectly funded by the federal company Petrobras,” says the judge.
According to the website of the newspaper Folha de Sao Paulo, UTC would have donated illegally to Rousseff’s campaign, favoring the illegal plot. Other big builders involved in the Petrobras caseareAndrade Gutierrez, Queiroz Galvao, OAS, Norberto Odebrecht,Odebrecht Oil and Gas and Engevix Engenharia.
These companies have donated large sums to the National Directory of the PT, which in turn would have donated to the Rousseffcampaign.
Between August and October 2014, the board of the party donated 13.6 million reais, about $3million,” reports the newspaper Folha de Sao Paulo.
“During the presidential campaign the political partycandidate [Rousseff]received significant donations from the companies investigated, with a total value of 47.5 million reais, about $14 million,”explains Mendes.
According to political analyst, Josias de Souza, besides Pessoa, others involved in the fraud in Petrobras, who collaborate with the investigation, also said that part of the resources diverted from the state were given to PT, and that they were “disguised” as legitimate election donations.
The move was denounced by the forex trader Alberto Youssef –who was one of the main operatorsof the fraudulent scheme-, the former director ofoil supply,Paulo Roberto Costa and executive Augusto Mendonca Ribereiro from Toyo Setal.
Meanwhile, the former manager of Petrobras, PedroBarusco, who is also arrested and cooperates with the police and the prosecution, found that the ruling party received a total of $200 million through the Service Department ofPetrobras when that office was managed byRenato Duque.
Duque was placed in the management position by Jose Dirceu, a strongman inthe government of Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, who returned to jail on suspicion of being linked to the Petrobras case.
Should the Prosecutor confirmanythingillicit in the last chapter of the Petrobras case, it would result in the initiation of criminal proceedings that could lead to a challenge of the mandate of the president and herdeputy, Michel Temer.
In that case, the presidency would be taken over by the President of the Chamber of Deputies, Eduardo Cunha, who has beenformally denounced for alleged payment of bribes in the same scandal.