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Kotscho | Why Now?

Source: Ricardo Kotscho.

From behind every door that opens, more skeletons emerge from the closet where the secret dealings of the São Paulo subway have been closely guarded for years.

Now that the topic has been blown wide open — by TV networks and in the columns of a sympathetic media — the major dailies in São Paulo are engaged in a veritable scavenger hunt  in their haste to turn up exclusive new evidence of fraud and announce the measures taken by the state prosecutor — and where has the MPE been all these years? — as a result of “leaks” supposedly perpetrated by the antitrust agency CADE and based on a plea agreement with Siemens, a member of the cartel.

Why only now?

Look at the headlines:

“MP investigates whether train cartel enriched public servants”(Estadão).

“Task force will investigate 45 cases related to trains and subway lines” (Folha)

From these sources, we learn:

That of the 45 investigations openedby the MPE involving companies suspected of defrauding auctions of trains and subway lines in São Paulo, some 15 are being reopened after having been archived “for lack of evidence.” Another 30 cases are now active, the Folha says.

The MPE now wants to know who it was, during the governorships of  PSDB politiciansMario Covas, Geraldo Alckmin and José Serra — during which the scheme was active — that benefited from the scheme before and after the execution of the contracts. Three offshore companies in Uruguay are mentioned in the papers in the power of the MPE. Supposedly, it was through these companies that alleged bribes were paid to public officials in exchange for contracts with the Metrô andthe CPTM, according to the Estadão.

Senior Toucans of the PSDB seem dumbstruck by recent revelations. With an indignant air, Governor Geraldo Alckmin said that “the state is the victim in this case” and that if public agents were benefited by the cartel, “they should be punished immediately.”

Why is it that we are only now learning all this, if the scheme operated during Toucan governments between 1997 and 2008? Before now, no one was interested in asking the prosecutor-general of the state, who is nominated by the Governor, how many cases involved the MPE in investigations of the Metrô?

Upon his return from a touristic visit to Europe, presidential candidate Aécio Neves, mentioned the topic during a regional food festival at the São Paulo governor’s palace, attended by the cream of Toucan high society. Aécio believes that “it appears that some companies  have acted in collusion,” as though this were  possible without the partipation of ranking figures in the state government.

“It seems very strange that these documents in the power of CADE have not reached the government of São Paulo. Obviously, we are not going to tolerate this biased leakingof information,” he complained. Former governor José Serra, also present, had no comment on the case.

Could it be that in all these years, taking into account the theory of the “dominion of the fact,” not a single state official from one of the branches and departments of government noticed that São Paulo was paying more and receiving fewer km of Metrô, andthat deficient maintenance was causing series of system outagees, such as the one that occurred this Friday, when a train dereailed at Barra Funda station and interrupted service on the line for nearly nine hours?

Anyone who has ever bought a car, a house or an aircraft always starts out checking the market prices for these items, and if the price asked is well above the market price, they will think there is something  suspicious about the deal.

Image, then, that the deal in question has to do with procuring equipment for the Metrô, evaluated at some R$ 2 billion during the period in question, with an overbilling that causes the public coffers R$ 557 million according to calculations by the OESP.

City council member Andrea Matarazzo, closely tied to José Serra, is the only ranking Toucan who has so far been cited and indicted in this case. Police say the PSDB council member received a bribe from Alstom in 1998,” we read in Tuesday’s  Folha. The French multinational  Alstom is one of the companies involved in the cartel commanded by Siemens and has been under investigation by federal police since 1995.

According to the Folha, “the police work was based on information obtained by the Swiss prosecutor. The case was completed in August 2012 and is being analysed by the  Brazilian federal  prosecutor.

In his final report on the case, with respect to Matarazzo’s involvement Milton Fornazari Júnior cites an exchange of messages in 1997 in which Alstom execs discuss the payment of bribes to the PSDB, the Secretariat of Energy  and the Accounting Tribunal. This evidence was deemed sufficient to indict Matarazzo, who denies taking a bribe and said he did not attend meetings regarding the contract.

Now that the doors have been kicked open, 15 years after the investigations began, when Andrea Matarazzo was state Secretary of  Energia, the state government is beating down the doors of the courts to obtain access to the documents in the possession of CADE — a request denied by Judge  Gabriel Queiroz Neto … Even without access to documents considered secret, the Estado de São Paulo can still conduct its own investigations.

Why only now?

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