June 23, 2016

BRAZIL: Ex-Member Of Impeached President Rousseff's Cabinet Arrested In Corruption Investigation. Congressman Who Led Impeachment Indicted.

The Guardian, UK
written by AP staff
Thursday June 23, 2016

Federal police say former minister Paulo Bernardo was involved in a scheme channeling millions of dollars in bribes for Brazil’s Workers’ party.

A key cabinet member in the administrations of Presidents Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva and Dilma Rousseff was arrested Thursday for allegedly channeling millions of dollars in bribes for Brazil’s Workers’ party.

Federal police say former minister Paulo Bernardo was involved in a scheme at the country’s planning ministry to overprice contracts of information technology services from 2010-2015.

The São Paulo and the Brasilia offices of the left-leaning party that won the last four presidential elections in Brazil were also being searched by federal police. A secretary of São Paulo Mayor Fernando Haddad and a former treasurer of the Workers’ party are also being sought for arrest in connection with the case.

Bernardo was planning minister until the end of 2010, when Silva’s second term ended, but was later appointed communications minister for Rousseff. He left that job at the end of 2014. Investigators said in a news conference that he personally received about $2m during his time in office and estimated the overall cost of the scheme in $30m.

Bernardo’s lawyers are calling the arrest illegal. His wife, Gleisi Hoffmann, is currently a senator and was Rousseff’s former chief of staff. Both she and Bernardo are being investigated in a separate probe of state-run oil giant Petrobras, which has engulfed many of Brazil’s top politicians.

The Workers’ party issued a statement to criticize the “unnecessary” police operation. “Amid a series of accusations of corruption involving politicians and businessmen, they assembled an operation in another attempt to criminalize the Workers’ party,” the statement reads, in a reference to recent accusations against members of acting President Michel Temer’s inner circle.

The evidence that fed the investigation that led to Bernardo’s arrest also came from the Petrobras inquiry.

Federal police investigator Rodrigo de Campos Costa told journalists that the former minister received the payments through a law firm. He said that the scheme with technology firm Consist Software began after a company was hired by Brazil’s planning ministry in 2009 and curiously kept only 30% of its payments. “The whole contract was a fraud,” Costa said.

Consist did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Former pension minister Carlos Gabas, a close friend of Rousseff’s, was questioned by police in relation to the case.

The arrest is a blow for Rousseff, who is now suspended from the presidency and trying to survive an impeachment trial at the senate for allegedly breaking fiscal laws in 2015.

Although she has not been directly implicated, corruption accusations against key members of her party have sparked protests nationwide for two years now.

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Reuters news
reporting by Maria Carolina Marcello
Wednesday June 22, 2016

Brazil's Supreme Court on Wednesday indicted suspended speaker of the lower house Eduardo Cunha on charges of money laundering and illegal currency dealing, dragging the powerful politician further into the sweeping scandal involving state-oil company Petrobras.

"There is concrete evidence that deputy Eduardo Cunha received (illicit) funds," Teori Zavascki, the supreme court justice overseeing the case, said in the ruling.

It is the second time charges have been accepted against Cunha in the so-called Car Wash investigation, which centers on kickbacks paid to politicians by construction companies working with Petrobras.

The move could increase the chance of Cunha taking a plea deal, a scenario that concerns many in his Brazilian Democratic Movement Party (PMDB) party, to which interim President Michel Temer belongs.

Earlier this week, Cunha defiantly denied any criminal wrongdoing and said he would not resign despite the mounting charges against him.

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