First of all, as I was taught by an Argentine foreign correspondent I met several years back — covering the Brasilia beat for an aggressively conservative, anti-Christina broadsheet in its own right wing — you must always remember: Veja lies.
The art of Veja-watching, on the other hand, lies in puzzling out the why and how of all that lying.
The how can get especially bizarre, as when the magazine stamped its cover with mug-shot graphics of senior governmental officials along with the supposed balance of their supposed Swiss bank accounts — even the director of the Brazilian FBI.
The expert document examiner they used had a history of perjury. The magazine never retracted the implication. See
- Whatever Happened to the Secret Offshore Bank Account of Brazil’s Top Cop?
- Veja (Brazil): Behind the Scenes of an “Exemplary” Investigative Report
Veja is less a consumer magazine and more of a disinformation juggernaut.
With that firmly in mind — Veja lies — the magazine unleashes another spitball this weekend, based on an earlier saga of corruption in high places. I will give it a quick translation and then give equal time to the response so far from figures of the Workers Party, which are no slouches themselves at the art of PR.
In September of last year, businessman Marcos Aurélio, the man in charge of the “monthly payola,” presented himself voluntarily to the Attorney General’s office and gave a long deposition in which he formalized certain crushing revelations about the largest corruption scheme in the history of Brazil.
The scandal is far from being the largest in the history of Brazil. But leave that for another moment.
The trial of the mensaleiros, including Valério himself, was well underway in the Supreme Court. Aurélio wanted protection and a plea bargain.
Among the new details revealed, Valério told how ex-president Lula not only knew of the “monthly payola” but put his stamp of approval on clandestine transactions.
Valério also said that the money used to bribe lawmakers also paid personal expenses of the President, even after he assumed the Presidency. This deposition gave rise to a number of investigations. One of them, involving a supposedly illegal donation to the PT, now assumes an international dimension.
The federal police asked for help in tracing offshore bank accounts which, according to Valério, were used by the PT to receive illegal donations that bankrolled the 2002 campaign.
In his statement to police, the man behind the “monthly payola” provided prosecutors with three account numbers used to receive US$7 million from Portugal Telecom, a giant in the telephony sector with interests in Brazil and a desire to develop closer ties with the recently elected government.
PT is currently planning to merge with Oi — itself the product of an M&A between Oi and Brasil Telecom.
Valério said that the donation was agreed to by Lula, José Dirceu and former minister Antonio Palocci, and that he took care of it personally. .
Palocci on the CCTV
Thus far, only Palocci has responded to the charges, which have been slightly downplayed by the Estado, the first publication to take on the other side of the story.
On Thursday, former treasury minister Antonio Palocci turned over to federal police a certificate from the Planalto Palace in an attempt to neutralize an accusation levied against him by Marcos Valério, the operator of the “monthly payola of the PT” scheme. In a statement to the attorney-general’s office on September 24, Valério said that he and Palocci were at the meeting in 2005 with Lula and the president of Portugal Telecom, Miguel Antônio Igrejas Horta e Costa, a meeting to discuss the illegal transfer of R$ 7 million to the Workers Party.
The defense team of the former minister presented the PF with a document signed by Giles Carriconde Azevedo, chief of the personal staff of the President, in which he attests that “in the existing records there is no information about the any such meeting with Lula, Palocci, and Miguel Horta.”
To criminal law expert Marcelo Leonardo, defense attorney for Marcos Valério, the scope of the document is questionable, given that the personal agendas of various other ministers are not being produced. “The fact that there was no record of the meeting does not mean that it did not happen. There is a history of meetings not registered at the Palace.”
In 2008, for example, former secretary of the tax authority Lina Vieira revealed taking part in a meeting with then chief of staff Dilma Rousseff in which a conflict over audits targeting Fernando Sarney, son of then-Senator José Sarney.
The Palace and Dilma deny the encounter. Lina produced annotations in her day planner, registered at the time, which refer to the meeting. Veja magazine published a report about a former Palace aide who says that security camera footage was “blacked out” so the existence of the meeting could not be proven.
When he made his statement to the PGR, Valério had already been sentenced to 40 years in prison by the Supreme Court. Ready to do anything to reduce his sentence, or even receive a judicial pardon, he entered into a plea bargain agreement. His deposition took up 13 pages and three and a half hours.
Lisbon. A section of the deposition is dedicated to supposed meetings in the Planalto Palace. In one such encounter, Valério said, Lula, his chief of staff José Dirceu and Delubio Soares, PT treasurer at the time, were present. Valério says Lula gave his okay to the transactions. He says he made two deposits, one for R$ 98,500 into the account of Caso Serviços, a company belonging to Freud Godoy, a former security guard to Lula, to pay personal expenses of the PT leader.
Regarding the meeting of Horta, Palocci and Lula, Valério said he received the green light from the PT to negotiate with Portugal Telecom “a contribution” of R$ 7 million to the Workers Party. He recalls traveling that year to Lisbon, where he closed the deal. He was unable to say where and when the Palace meeting allegedly occurred.
Valério’s accusations led to a federal police investigation at the instance of the attorney-general. Proceeding No. 413/2013 is the responsibility of PF agent Andréia Pinho, from the Financial Crimes division in Brasília.
Criminal attorneys José Roberto Batochio and Guilherme Batochio, attorneys to Palocci, anticipating the issuance of a subpoena to their client, resolved to collaborate with investigations. They requested access to the visitor registry at the Planalto.
On June 19, the chief of the President’s personal staff prepared an official document stating there existed no record of such a meeting. “This meeting described (by Valério) never took place, it is obviously the mental invention of a man interested in minimizing his punishment. It is pure fabrication”, the Batochios write in their petition to the PF and the courts.
Batochio emphasizes that the Palace is equipped with “rigorous access controls on all persons with business there, which is considered an area of State security, with constant monitoring by cameras and closed-circuit TV.”
The plea bargain, according to the attorney for Palocci, “opens an opportunity for this sort of maneuver, in which the guilty part wants to mitigate his sentence and will stop at nothing to do so.”
Above: Black Blocs besiege the Abril tower on the Pinheiros River.
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