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The Innocence of Siemens


Source: Época NEGÓCIOS 

Headline: CGU opens a case in order to declare the innocence of Siemens. 

Translation: C. Brayton

The disconnect between the headline and the body of the story is striking.

The fact is that nothing reported here about the CGU  — federal comptroller-general — is sustained by the body of the text, in which the CGU is mentioned once, near the bottom of the screen.

The real focus of the story is the CGA — the state version of the federal CGU, which, according to Exame, is campaigning for the fitness of Siemens to continue contracting with state and federal governments.

At any rate, Exame magazine publishes the correct headline:

CGA opens a proceeding to declare fitness of Siemens 

The swap of CGU for CGA can be explained orthographically, I suppose.

On September 18, the state Comptroller-General of São Paulo [announced] a procedure that [might end up declaring the] German multinational Siemens, which revealed the cartel in public transportation, unfit for future contracts.

The proceeding, which will take between 15 and 20 days, began as a request from the commuter rail system Companhia Paulista de Trens Metropolitanos (CPTM) and the Metrô subway system, who say they were damaged by the company, which has confessed its role in the case.

With the decision by the CGA, the state government hopes to reinforce its strategy of obtaining reimbursement for  the damages done by the cartel.

According to Siemens, the contracts that originated in the fraudulent auctions were overpriced by as much as 30%. By this calculation, the State could be losing R$ 500 million a year.

If the company is found unfit, Siemens will be barred from competing for future contracts with the government.

The strategy of the state comptroller is the same adopted by the federal government’s comptroller-general (CGU), which not long ago ruled unfit the public works contractor Delta, key figure in the scandal involving the racketeer Carlinhos Cachoeira.

The Tribunal de Contas do Estado (state accounting tribunal) opened a case with the same objective in August, when it requested that the the MPC — financial division of the federal prosecutor — inform it of any elements that indicate that Siemens and other companies denounced by it  remain fit to do business with the state.

Siemens entered into an agreement with federal antitrust agency CADE in May in which the formation of a cartel was revealed in six contracts with São Paulo state and the Federal District. In all, 20 companies were involved by Siemens, including the company itself.

In its plea bargain, Siemens insists that the cartel was active between 1998 and 2008, a period which encompassed three state governments of the PSDB, including current governor Geraldo Alckmin. Federal police investigations in partnership with the federal prosecutor have also found signs that the state government agents received bribes from these companies.

Siemens has repeatedly said that it is cooperating with the investigation but cannot comment because the case is under a  non-disclosure order.

Is it fair to say that the CGA (São Paulo State) and the CGU (federal) are working at cross-purposes?

Investigative bodies and investigations have proliferated so quickly that its hard to piece the whole thing together.

It does seem possible to say that the CGA and state government prefer to let Siemens off the hook, whereas the CGU and this federal government are exceedingly aggressive in their trade negotiations and diplomatic messaging, and the focus of federal police on major white-collar crime. .