Source: Observatório da Imprensa
By: Luciano Martins Costa
Translation: C. Brayton
The accountant of numbers racketeer Carlos Cachoeira has surrendered to police. The story, which made headlines in the mainstream press yesterday — January 15 — should, in theory, encourage the press to resume a general debate over the vulnerability of our political system to the activities of organized crime groups.
Experience teaches caution, however: none of the major newspapers has displayed the slightest appetite for this topic. The activities of Carlos Cachoeira — «Charlie Waterfall» — after creating a good deal of excitement during the last few months of 2012, has been demoted to a secondary status among the scandals of the hour.
Aside from publishing photographs and documents related to Waterfall’s honeymoon at a deluxe hotel in coastal Bahia, the Brazilian press has demonstrated very little interest in why the racketeer has been able to enjoy himself so thoroughly despite the jail time and additional accusations he faces.
Were it not for the risk of raising the dust of partisan passions that hampers any and all attempts to cover the issue, it would be useful, for example, to compare the press’s lack of appetite for news on the Waterfall case with the sturm und drang with which it called for the immediate imprisonment of the so-called «monthly payola» defendants late last year.
But let us leave that issue aside. The selectivity with which the press covers political misdeeds is amply demonstrated.
Instead, let’s examine the case of accountant Geovani [sic ]Pereira da Silva.
Both «Geovani» and «Giovani» are used. I think the former is correct.
On the run for 10 months and 15 days, Geovani, according to press reports, was in hiding at a country house 65 km from Goiânia — capital of Goiás state and home base of Waterfall, who has transformed himself in the past decade from a paltry numbers runner to a major partner in deals with government agents and agencies of all branches and at all levels.
The accountant is a key part of the prosecution resulting from federal police Operation Monte Carlo. The press should be paying closer attention to what he does next.
Geovani [sic] has correctly concluded that the peace of mind enjoyed by his boss, who is currently honeymooning along the coast of Bahia, is inversely proportional to his own personal safety.
The fate of Waterfall, who has already been found guilty of heading a gambling syndicate, depends on how much the accountant is willing to tell police.
We already know, for example, that accountant transported the large sums of cash with which the racketeer paid his associates, and that he personally delivered R$ 1 million to former senator Demóstenes Torres, in his day a standard-bearer of public morality among the Democrats — DEM-PFL –in the Congress.
The evening newscasts on January 15 gave credence to the official version of events, in which Giovani da Silva decided to turn himself in order to avoid the embarrasment of being filmed and photographed in handcuffs and exposed to public condemnation as federal agents besieged the property.
For its part, O Globo insinuates that Giovani will not spend much time behind bars thanks to a habeas corpus application filed by his attorney. The appeal of the arrest warrant will be heard by Tourinho Neto of the Regional Federal Court, the same judge who ordered the release of Waterfall and the other thirty defendants in the case pending the outcome of their trials.
According to the mainstream press, this is as far as things go. But similar cases have led to different results. As in the case of Al Capone, the accountant represents a key to the jailhouse door for Cachoeira & Cia. Not even the authors of fifth-rate cops and robbers novels would imagine that he will shortly regain his freedom — unless, of course, he makes a plea agreement in return for his testimony.
Giovani was sentenced in December to 13 years and 4 months in prison on corruption and criminal conspiracy charges. He faces further charges of tax evasion, money laundering, misuse of public funds, and other crimes which, while not yet revealed by the federal police, are expected to reflect badly on his employer.
When Judge Tourinho Neto gave the green light to his honeymoon in Bahia Waterfall had already been sentenced to 39 years in prison. Giovani Pereira da Silva’s life is worth a plugged nickel, and still the press insists that he gave himself up to avoid looking bad on the Jornal Nacional.
The Suicide Bomber
The Estado de S. Paulo ran an interview with the accountant’s attorney on July 22 of last year. Coverage has been sparse since then, as Mr. Martins Costa observes.
The federal police have been search for Geovani Pereira da Silva for 145 days. The accountant, 45, with a net worth of less than R$ 200,000, is the last piece in the puzzle for the federal investigators of Operation Monte Carlo, which led to the arrest of Carlos Augusto Ramos, aka Carlinhos Cachoeira — Charley Waterfall –, on February 29, along with another 79 suspects.
According to the indictment brought by the federal prosecutor, Geovani was responsible for receiving payments from illegal gambling activities and distributing payments to members of the scheme. Investigators believe that the scheme moved billions of Brazilian reais.
“The suicide bomber in this case is Charlie Waterfall, and not Geovani”, says Calisto Abdalla Neto, defense counsel for the accountant, responding to pressure to subpoena Geovani to apeear before a special congressional inquiry — CPI — into the case.
After his disappearance, rumors began to circulate that he was negotiating a plea agreement in exchange for testimony. His attorney denies this. “If he talks, he wakes up dead. Or worse, he dies before he gets a chance to talk.” Data supplied to the CPI demonstrate that his stated net worth is inconsistent with the volume of financial transactions he engaged in.
“We underscore the fact that the payments were received by an individual,” according to a federal tax investigation into Geovani, who enjoyed free access to Waterfall’s legitimate business, Vitapan and the federal construction contractor Delta in Goiânia.
The financial high point of Geovani’s accounts show him with R$ 195,000 in assets and R$ 110,000 in debt. In the same year, he bought five automobiles and moved R$ 3.1 million through his accounts. In the following year, he moved R$ 4.3 million.
Banco Itaú account summaries obtained by the CPI also describe million-dollar transfers using the accountant’s personal account. On one occasion, R$ 2 million in transfers passed through his account on a single day. The funds had a clear destination: they were transferred to another of Geovani’s accounts or to co-conspirators and their shell corporations.
Among the 250,000 hours of recordings in the case, Waterfall is brief in talking with Geovani and the subject is exclusively money matters.. “Did you send 23? No. Send 33 and put down 10,000 in credit for me”, the racketeer tells the accountant. Along with online accounting records, there was large quantity of paper records. Part of these was seized by the feds and is being analyzed.
On March 3, 2011, during discussions about the sale of a house belonging to Governor Marconi Perillo, Cachoeira called his accountant and asked him for “600, 500 and 400. Cláudio knows.” Several days earlier, it was Geovani who informed his boss of the payment made to architect Alexandre Milhomem, who was in charge of renovating and decorating the Alphaville property. In another conversation, after a fight with his girlfriend, Waterfall asks Geovani to deposit R$ 35,000 in the account of Andressa (Mendonça).
An accountant by trade, Geovani lived in the middle-class suburb Anápolis (GO). In one of the recordings, he is asked what it was like to work with Cachoeira for 18 years. “He has always been like that (hard to talk to), but he understands what you are saying,” he responds to the local PTdoB president, Sérgio Morais. Morais planned to put Geovani on the public payroll that very year. during the same call, the men discuss the race for mayor or a spot on the city council of Anápolis.
The PT do B official also advises Geovani to be careful: “With all the phone calls you make to the big guy, the feds are already after you.” In another conversation, it is Waterfull who urges Geovani to take precautions in case he was being wiretapped.
Jantar. On February 28, the eve of Monte Carlo, conspirators met with Waterfall to discuss the possibility of a police operation. The final call between Geovani and Waterfall is a payment order registered at 2:56 p.m.. Geovani disappeared that very night. He took his girlfriend out to dinner, dropped her off at home, and never returned to his own. All the other subjects of the investigation were arrested..
Geovani’s mother Dalila said her son had instructed her not to comment — as he did his girlfriend.
A well-known figure in Anápolis, Geovani is said by local residents to have been a taboo subject since his disappearance. “Everyone is afraid the police will find out he is hiding here. No one mentions his name,” said a neighbor.
Geovani’s defense attorney says that he is “in hiding and waiting for the courts to grant him the freedom to mount a defense.” He is thought to be somewhere in Goiás, moving from place to place to avoid arrest but getting messages to his family from time to time.
Filed under: Brazil