By Alan Rodrigues, Pedro Marcondes de Moura and Sérgio Pardellas
It was close to 2:00 p.m. when four federal police agents entered the state accounting tribunal (TCE) in downtown São Paulo and ascended to the fifth floor in search of documents related to cartel formation among companies participating in the São Paulo Metrô and the commuter rail line CPTM.
The police were searching for 21 contracts with indications of irregularities, according to sources at CADE, the federal antitrust authority.
Federal police imposing its police powers on a judicial body, which says it may reopen contracts identified by the police as suspect.. How weird is that?
The fact is, however, that a major suspect in the Alstom bribery case — Robson Marinho, former chief of staff to Governor Covas — continues to serve on the TCE-SP.
The good name of Mário Covas as an exemplary politician, is damaged by his ties to Robson Marinho, a crucial part of the bribery case.
Skip to to the bottom of the page for a profile of Marinho. Now, as to the findings of federal police,
The deals were worth R$ 11 billion, corrected for inflation. Five of the contracts have already been judges irregular by the TCE, while another three, with an estimated value of R$ 6.,3 billion, have never been heard. Another 13, including the executive planning for the Ana Rosa/Ipiranga da Linha leg of Line2-Green at a cost of R$ 143.6 million, were ruled irregular by the tribunal.
The PF intends to use information in TCE case fules to complement an inquiry into fraudulent practices of 18 cartel participants that allegedly mounted a bribery network that operated in São Paulo for the last 20 years. Several weeks ago, ISTOÉ revealed in an exclusive report the analyses of TCE-SP, which warned the state government of the existence of overbilling and bid-rigging.
Despite these warnings, auctions continued to suffer from corrupt behavior. “The TCE audit, in a number of contracts, demonstrated that competition was lacking,” said TCE president Antônio Roque Citadini. “With this new information, contracts that have already been judged compliant could be reopened for a fresh analysis,” Citadini says.
The Federal Public Ministry (MPF) will also dig deeper into the São Paulo subway scandal. Since a federal police operation on July 4, the MPF has tried without success to obtain access to the material seized. Its application has languished in the justice system.
According to federal prosecutor Karen Louise Jeanette Kahn, information sharing is necessary to creating a task force in the case. “Exchange of information is a basic condition for the prosecution to advance rapidly and for the ilegal practices to be punished,”Karen says.
When “exchange of information” is translated as “politically motivated strategic leaking,” the PF’s conduct is more comprehensible.
Robson Marinho, “Political Suicide Bomber”
On the scandal of retaining Robson Marinho as a magistrate of the TCE.
In August 2009, tax judge Gabriella Pavlópoulos Spaolonzi … ordered the freezing of the assets of TCE magistrate Robson Marinho, including US$ 1 million deposited in Swiss accounts, the state prosector said.
The reason was the accusation that Marinho had received bribes from Alstom in return for contacts with the São Paulo subway system. Marinho denied the charge, but prosecutors believe they have robust evidence on which to continue their investigation, which is remains confidential.
In October 2011, Marinho tried to prevent the opening of his financial information by court order, pleading tentou impedir a quebra de seus sigilos bancários, autorizados por ordem judicial, alegando prescrição fiscal. The state high court ruled against Marinho, explaining that the case was not a tax case but rather a case of “illicit self-enrichment at the expensive of the taxpayer,” With that, the fiscal information was made available to investigators.
This quandary made Marinho unsustainable as a magistrate of the TCE — the very agency responsible for approving the accounts of the governor and the state civil service, including state-owned companies like Metrô. Insustentável porque a situação, aos olhos do cidadão, é aquela da raposa tomando conta do galinheiro.
The rule does not constitute prejudice without due process, … the defendant’s defese is underway. . Robson tried to defuse the the investigations by promising to step down from the TRE. Four years later, however, this has not happened. Robson Marinho sits securely in his magistrate’s chair, no matter how unsustainable it is. Last June, he was the rapporteur in the approval of 2012 election funding of Governor Geraldo Alckmin, as though nothing had happened and Robson a citizen beyond suspicion.
The climate of abnormality and impunity that reigns in the land of the Toucans — São Paulo — is aggravated when we discovered that Robson Marinho is a long-time friend and comrade Geraldo Alckmin. Both began their careers in the now-defunct MDB and contributed to the foundation of the PSDB. Both come from the same region in São Paulo state, the Paraíba Valley. Marinho built his political career based in São José dos Campos, as Alckmin did in the neighboring city of Pindamonhangaba.
Both were senior officials in the Mário Covas government, revealing a very powerful partnership between the two of them.
For all that the traditional media covers up this anomaly, recent testimony from Siemens about cartel formation points to Alstom … as a company that participated in overbilling and bid rigging — has reignited anger at the continuation of Robson Marinho in theTCE.
If to date there has been a mysterious tolerance ofthis unsustainble situation , the episode in which Marinho passes judgment on Alckmin’s campaign accounts, places the PSDB governor in a delicate situation. After all, what else could explain the “armor plating” blocking news about the case. What is going on there? Is one hand washing the other? How will the citizen of São Paulo react?
The state prosecutor (MP-SP) is also upset that the MPF has not yet sued to remove Robson Marinho from the TCE. Even if the courts rule against the petition, at least it will be possible register an official recommendation that prosecutor’s are zealous protector of the public treasury,, based on a Adjustment of Conduct.
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