The plot so far: In late 1998 and early 1999, here in Brazil, a media scandal erupts over alleged “steering” of the federal auctions that privatized the Telebrás state telephone monopoly.
Was the scandal authentic or phony (pardon the pun)?
Ten years later, nothing has been revealed, as Elvira Lobato of the Folha de S. Paulo noted recently, in one of those “ten years later, doubts still linger” sorts of pieces.
Specifically, the Minister of Communications — later, the publisher of Primeira Leitura magazine, edited by Reinaldo Azevedo, which failed in the wake of the Nossa Caixa political payola flap (also still murky after all these years) — and the president of the Banco do Brasil were charged with being overly chummy with one bidder in particular, and working to steer the auction toward that group. As Época magazine wrote in May 1999:
The efforts of these two were to make sure the gavel banged for the Banco Opportunity, anointed by the technical pedigree of Telecom Italia (its partner). Suspicions about the case widened in light of the solid relationships among persons who at that moment were on opposite sides of the auction block. Lara Resende is a friend and business partner of then Opportunity director Persio Arida, who in turn is married to Elena Landau, also a friend of Lara Resende. At the time, she worked at her husband’s bank, focusing precisely on the telecoms project.
Incest is best. For Pérsio Arida, read “former BNDES and Central Bank president Pérsio Arida.”
Both men lost their jobs in the government over the flap, which was based on leaked illegal wiretaps of their phone conversations around the time of the auctions.
The issue of the allegedly “steered” auction hovers over the pending merger of two of the private groups created by the privatization: Oi (ex-Telemar) and Brasil Telecom.
It also acquires fresh relevance with the first criminal conviction of Banco Opportunity founder Daniel Dantas, on bribery charges. He was found guilty of and sentenced to ten years for bribery of a federal police officer. See
- Dantas’ Inferno: “Fall of an Opportunist”
- The Dantas Defense: Just Because You’re Paranoid Doesn’t Mean They’re Not Out to Get You
- Dantas’ Inferno: “Scam Jam Leads to Uncle Sam Exam”
- Dantas’ Inferno: “Convicted of Corruption”
I have been translating this piece from the 1999 issue of Época to my notes just to refresh my memory of the basic facts at issue here. The first installment:
As I said before, the second installment involves the reaction by President Cardoso to the involvement of his name in the scandal. At the time, the Opposition (the PT, the party of President Lula and therefore now the Situation) were talking about impeachment.
The probity of Cardoso’s PSDB during the same period has also been called into question recently by a criminal money laundering case brought against its former national president, Eduardo Azeredo — members of the PT were later accused of using the exact same “political slush fund pipeline” — and indications from French and Swiss prosecutors that multinational mass-transit contractor Alstom paid bribes to PSDB officials to secure contracts in São Paulo.
The continuation of the Época piece, under the rubric of “the other side,” presents the government’s side of the case:
“I demand respect”
Involved in the intrigues of the privatization, the president takes the field to defend his honor
Filed under: Brazil, Organized Crime, Politics, Telecom | Tagged: André Lara Resende, banco opportunity, brasil telecom, daniel dantas, Fernando Henrique Cardoso, Luiz Carlos Mendonça de Barros, oi, Pérsio Arida, telecom italia, telemar | Leave a Comment »