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Commuter Rail | Current Contracts Revisted


Source:  ISTOÉ Independente 

Recent footprints of the cartel

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Public Ministry (MP) prosecutors and state accounting tribunal (TCE-SP) discover strong indications that the Metrô scheme remains in force. Current contracts signed by the administrations of José Serra and Geraldo Alckmin will be closely scrutinized.

Givven the powerful evidence that companies in the railway and subway sector diverted nearly half a billion reais from a scheme operating in the Metrô and CPTM communter rail systems , the MP and TCE-SP are racing against time to determine whether these irregularities are present in contracts that remain in force.

The objective is to put an end to the bleeding of the public coffers as quickly as possible.

Last week, the TCE announced that it will look very closely at contracts recently signed between companies in the cartel and the government of São Paulo. Members of the MP and the TCE see strong evidence that current contracts, signed by ex-governor José Serra (2007-2010) and current São Paulo governor Geraldo Alckmin are vitiated by fraud.

Among the contracts in question are the renovation of trains running on Lines 1 (Blue) and 3 (Red), celebrated in 2008 and 2009. With a duration of 5 and a half years and costing more than R$ 1,7 bilhão, these services were divided up among consortia formed by the companies in the ecartel. Even Siemens, which denounced the scheme, took part. Also involved are Alstom, Iesa, Bombardier, Tejofran, Temoinsa, TTrans e MPE, contracted for the renovation of 98 trens.

| caption| Signed in 2008 and 2009, the countracts for the renovation of trains on the Lines 1 (Blue) and 3 (Red) are still in force.

The TCE-SP will kick off its close scrutiny with contracts that have yet to ruled on, among which many are in full force.

Recall that a n alleged  key player in the bribery scheme was, mirabile dictu, a minister of the TCE, Robson Marinho.

… the state accounting tribunal (TCE) … currently counts among its members Robson Marinho, former chief of staff of the  Covas government and accused by Swiss authorities of being the owner of an account used to receive bribes from Alstom.

As Rede Brasil Autual points out, Marinho managed to hold on to his seat, and his right to priveleged form, for four more years.

In August 2009, Judge Gabriella Pavlópoulos Spaolonzi, ordered the freezing of the assets of TCE member Robson Marinhho, including US $1 million deposited in a Swiss account. … He stood accused of receiving bribes from Alstom related to Metrô contracts. Marinho denied the charges but the MP felt it had strong evidence to go to court with …

Four years have passed and Robson Marinho remains firmly installed in his seat at the TCE, no matter how unsustainable the situation seems. Last June, he was the rapporteur of the proceeding that approved 2012 campaign spending by Geraldo Alckmin, as though nothing were wrong and he was just another citizen, above suspicion.

Foxes. Hen houses.

TCE, president Antonio Roque Citadini says priority will be given to contracts involving the 18 members of the Siemens-Alstom cartel. “We have to investigate these auctions, focusing especially on the additives,” says Citadini. Among these are the sale of 40 trains with eight cars each by CAF to CPTM during the Serra administration. An e-mail in the custody of antitrust agency catches a Siemens executive telling his supeior that Serra and his metro transport secretary, José Luiz Portella, suggested the Siemens divide the billion-dollar contract with CAF, which had won the auction. The government feared that law suits among the companies might delay delivery. This partnership never came about, but the State had provided an incentive to behave in a manner contrary to free market competition, of which nearly all caused losses to the public treasury. This contract, financed by the World Bank, was also the topic of preliminary debate in the TCE between CAF and Iesa. Iesa tried unsuccessfully to obtain 30% of the negotiated value of the project, alleging that it had a verbal agreement with CAF in exchange for lending it some of its technical qualifications in order to win the auction.

São Paulo governor Geraldo Alckmin says he will sue Siemens, but he has not cancelled any of the contracts held by members of the cartel.

An even greater task, however, is the second phase of the TCE audit. The agency intends to review contracts previously certified as regular between companies of the cartel and the Metrô and CPTM. This reverification, the TCE says, is necessary given that 10 of the 16 contracts revealed by CADE as overbilled were found to be normal by the TCE, in that they complied with the technical requirements of the contract.

The MP-SP also has hard work ahead of it. In addition to trying to recoup the millions diverted by the cartel, the team of 10 prosecutors are closely studying investigations designed to confirm the unlawful acts by public servants who aided and abetted the scheme.  “The investigations are divided up by contract. Our aim is also to identify misconduct by civil servants,” said prosecutor Silvio Antonio Marques.