Topic: The “monthly payola” of the PSDB
Translation: C. Brayton
The promise of mass protests against corruption in the requisition of railway components, construction and services, scheduled for mid-August, is bad news for the PSDB goveror of São Paulo.
So is the promise of a highly publicized trial of senior PSDB members, starting in early 2014. Despite the conviction of PT members in the so-called “monthly payola” scheme, the involvement of the PSDB in the precise same scheme has been kept out of the headlines.
This double whammy, together with the evocation of the popoular Ficha Limpa — “Clean Record” — law should go a long way toward evening out the moral high ground.
As a candidate for the presidency in 2014, Aécio Neves (MG), a sitting Senator, has been spending his time far from Brasilia. Last week, for instance, he named his campaign coordinator for Minas Gerais.
Selected for the post was Pimenta da Veiga, communications minister in the government of Fernando Henrique Cardoso who also coordinated the presidential campaign of José Serra in 2002 up until the completion of the first round of voting. Serra was defeated that year by Lula.
At the request of Aécio, the line of attack to be followed by Veiga, who is also the PSDB’s candidate for the governorship of Minas Gerais, is the same old same old: to exploit the PT’s involvement in the case of the so-called “monthly payola” in an attempt to weaken the public image of President Dilma and the likely PT candidate for the government of Minas, Fernando Pimentel.
Indications are, however, that Aécio is suffering from a serious memory lapse: In 1997 he himself backed a decree calling for a plebiscite, but now, in 2013, is against the same measure.
The current president has called for a plebiscite to hash out political reform with the National Congress — which in large part is having none of it, thank you very much. The push should consume a fair amount of the government’s energy between now and September.
Fernando Henrique Cardoso defended the proposal for a constitutional assembly dealing with a restricted range of topics. Aécio supported it at the time, but is now against it.
Cardoso called for a limited assembly to focus on tax, political and judicial reform, starting in 1999. It was probably a good idea.
Aécio has forgotten that Marcos Valério and his ad agency SMPB obtained contracts with the Correios [Postal Service] — a company subordinated to the Ministry of Communications — during Pimenta Veiga’s administration there, from 1999 to 2002.
The first contracts between the postal service and the ad agenices of Marcos Valério were signed with the Communications Ministry, according to the Polícia Federal, in 2000.
But Valério had already been performing errands for the Toucans since 1998.
The federal police traced four deposits by SMPB and DNA Propaganda to the account of Pimenta da Veiga, totaling R$ 300,000. Furthermore, during the CPMI of the Postal Service of 2005, a R$ 152,000 loan contract was discovered at the BMG — Banco de Minas Gerias –in which Veiga was named as a debtor with respect to Valério.
The transaction between the ad agency and Veiga, considered suspicious, wound up mentioned in the final report on the investigation.
In sworn testimony, Dennis Giacometti and Iran Castelo Branco, owners of Giacometti, said that more than 70% of the R$ 9.7 million in profits they realized from the contract with the postal service was deposited into an account belonging to Valério at the Banco Rural. This account at the Banco Rural, investigators say, was the same used to feed the “pipleline” of bribes.
During the CPMI, another R$ 150,000 payment appeared , dated in 2003, from Marcos Valério’s company to Pimenta da Veiga. The incident “ended in pizza” when the ex-minister said the payment was for “legal consulting.”
“Pizza” is jargon for an inconclusive Congressional investigation — “One minute they are mortal enemies, the next they are going out for pizza together.”
A Polícia Federal report identified the scheme in Minas Gerais in 1998, when current federal deputy Eduardo Azeredo was governor and figured as its principal beneficiary. According to the investigation, at least R$ 5.17 million were diverted from state-owned companies into the campaign finance coffers of Azeredo, through SMPB.
The diversion of funds was accomplished through sponsorships of special events and payouts for fictitious ad campaigns.
A motocross championship and Rock in Rio were among the events used in this way.
Aécio is listed as a beneficiary [of slush fund cash]in the amount of R$ 110,000 in the 1998 campaign, when he was running for federal deputy.
Nearly every PSDB and allied politician in the state appears on said list. Neves has not been visibly embarrassed by the accusation, it seems to me.
The case of Pimenta da Veiga’s ties with persons involved in the postal service corruption scheme, the investigation of which led to the scandal of the “monthly payola of Minas Gerais,” promises be taken up by a court in early 2014, according to federal proecutor-general Roberto Gurgel.
Those who live in glass houses should think twice before accusing adversaries of an episode with the fingerprints of the Toucans all over it.
“Which one is worse?” is a demoralizing debate for all involved, and tends to be avoided by the nimbler candidates.
Still, the relative cash balances of the two slush fund schemes do not favor the cause of the Toucans, which among other things is not longer so obstinately shielded by the mainstream media — the asccusations raised by IstoÉ magazine are richer than the oil reserves of the Santos Basin.
What I cannot understand is the failure of the PSDB to turn itself around. In Aécio Neves, it has a youthful, energetic and competent contender, capable of defending the party and its principles, who IMHO ought to put the party octogenarians — the São Paulo Gang of Four — out to pasture.