By: Sebastião Moreira/Estadão
Alstom recommended use of lobbyists and spoke of “friendly politicians” in the PSDB government
New documents delivered to Brazil from Switzerland 20 days ago,, according to investigators of the Alstom corruption case, reinforce the suspicion of corruption and the payment of bribes in contracts between the French engineering firm and the public transport sector in the state of São Paulo.
In an e-mail dated November 18, 2004, the president of Alstom in Brazil at the time, José Luiz Alquéres, “emphatically recommends” to company executives that they hired consultant Arthur Gomes Teixeira, an officially registered lobbyist and payer of bribes to public agents working in the subway and commuter rail sector between 1998 and 2003.
Alquéres, who no longer heads Alstom, mentions a “positive relationship” with São Paulo political figures. Teixeira, according to investigations still under way, was Alstom’s man in the middle with the mass transit sector.
“We have a long history of cooperation with São Paulo authorities, where our plant is located,” he wrote. “The newly elected mayor is taking part in negotiations that will enable us to reopen Mafersa and Alstom Lapa. The current state governor also plays a role.”
At the time, José Serra had just completed a successful run for mayor and Geraldo Alckmin was governor, both of them members of the PSDB. In 2004, the Alstom Lapa subsidiary was limping along with a tiny portfolio of public works contracts and reduced investments. The subsidiary, located in the Eastern Zone of São Paulo,was on the brink of shutting its doors.
In demanding performance from his troops, Alquéres signals the importance of winning new contracts with the subway and the CPTM (commuter rail network). He makes vague references to four projects belonging to state-owned firms.”These projects represent around 250 million euros,” he observesw. “In this time of change we have suffered major defeats in public auctions, something that has not happened to us for years. But we sill might succeed with the four projects the State of S. Paulo wants to negotiate or auction in the coming weeks.”
The CEO of Alstom cites “friendly politicians in the government” and says he has faith that the company will recover. “The process is moving forward, I am beginning to get messages from potential partners, principally from political friends in the government that I personally supported. Alstom must be present, as in the past.
One of the projects Alquéres had his eye on was awarded to an Alstom-led consortium in 2005 — it was an amendement to a contract originally signed in 1995 for R$ 223.5 million, and it resulted in the purchase of 12 trains for the CPTM.
This deal became the target of an improbity investigation by the state prosecutor, which identified “serious irregularities in the sixth additament, a veritable defrauding of the auction and the depreciation of the original contract.” The probe demonstrated a 73.69% surplus over the agreed price.
Bribe. The e-mail, addressed to the directors of four different areas of the business and copied to chief executives overseas, was seized by Swiss prosecutors in the mist of a criminal investigation that names João Roberto Zaniboni – ex-diretor of operations and maintenance at the CPTM between 1998 and 2003 — as having taken bribes from Alstom.
Twenty days ago, copiesof banking records were delivered showing deposits of US$ 836,000 in an account called Milmar, at Credit Suisse in Zurich, and owned by Zaniboni. Banking records show that Teixeira transferred US$ 103,500 in May 2000 to Zaniboni, using an offshore called Gantown Consulting. In December of that year, a business partner of Teixeira sent another US$ 113,300 to the ex-diretor of the CPTM. Swiss prosecutors say the money is a bribe.
The Swiss prosecutor sent its Brazilian counterpart a copy of an e-mail by Alquéres, who headed Alstom/Brasil between 2000 and 2006. The dossier mentions another message from Alquéres, three days after the last one, this one addressed to Philippe Mellier, global presidente of Alstom’s transportation division. As the Swiss pointed out assinalou: “E-mail Alquéres to Mellier on November 18, 2004, with possibe indications of acts of corruption in the context of transportation projects in Brazil.
In the message, Alquéres mentions that five senior executives, “key personnel whom we know very well,” had left the transport division of the business. He also speaks about relations with power elites. “Three of the five persons who were fired recently such as Carlos Alberto (CEO) and Reynaldo Goulart (VP Business Development) or transferred, like Reynaldo Benitez (financial director) have evolved strong personal ties with members of the CPTM and the Metrô-SP.” He suggests that his peers hireTeixeira and his consultancy, Procint, “which has shown tremendous competitio «in fair weather or foul».
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