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Estado | Vanina Vanini and the R$ Billion Man


On the Brazilian political scene at the moment, sectors of the Brazilian press would like you to believe that the incumbent PT are down to their last two outs in the ninth inning with men on second and third and no one but the pitcher to send to the plate — see …

Crisis at Petrobras haunts the second mandate of Dilma

PT leaders fear that accusations involving Graça Foster will undermine Dilma’s second mandate and demand a thorough house-cleaning in the upper management of company as part of cabinet reform.

That subhed appeared on December 14 in the opinion pages of the Estado de S. Paulo. All signs were that a Petrobras board member named Vanina Vanini — also the name of an obscure popular song — was being groomed for the role of muse and whistleblower of an exploding scandal.

At the moment, however, all is quiet on the Northeastern Front, after a dueling pair of prime-time interviews last week on Sunday-night  Globo.


On Christmas Eve, however, the Estado de S. Paulo went to extraordinary lengths to publish the entirety of an internal disciplinary report on Vanina (above). Vi O Mundo bookmarks this brilliant feat of obtaining and posting a PDF file — I guess you could say that the brilliance is the getting of it, despite transparency measures.

Petrobras digs deep in its investigation of “misdeeds,” and the reasons for presenting Venina as “the heroine” emerge.

Let me first excerpt and translate an investigative piece in which the Estado de S. Paulo had the remarkable idea of collecting the documents in the case — mainly board of directors meetings of a listed company, which should not be impossible to get your hands on if you live in the land of NYSE-Euronext — and narrating what went on at them.

Afterwards, the sad and really rather mundane story of the woman who would be the muse of a presidential impeachment.

Today’s story is by Ricardo Brandt & Fausto Macedo, the latter of whom has led the coverage where the facts take him. Kudos.

Costa et caterva

24 de dezembro de 2014 | 08:50

By Fernando Brito | Tijolaço

Christmas Eve brings surprises to those who believe they can wear out the government with insinuations of complicity between the current Petrobras board and the massive fraud of Paulo Roberto Costa et caterva.

Last night, the Petrobras board of directors decided to form an over-watch committee coordinated by a board-level director of Governance recruited from the private sector.

This will be a committee that has no recipes for pizza,* judging from the persons selected to serve on it: two persons capable of leaving the most outspoken Toucan completely mute.

*Pizza is a local metaphor for investigations that generate a lot of sturm und drang but no results; the opposing sides all go out for pizza together afterwards.

The first is Andreas Pohlmann, who oversaw the process of “cleaning up” Siemens in Germany, after the million-dollar sentences the company suffered at home and in the U.S.

The second is Ellen Gracie, a former Supreme Court judge, nominated by president Fernando Henrique Cardoso and even sounded out to serve as running mate to Aécio Neves this year.

The tasks of the committee: “approve the investigation plan; receive and analyze information forwarded by the offices; ensure the independence of the investigation such that it is not interfered with or obstructed; to analyze, approve and make feasible the implementation of recommendations made by the offices; communicate and/or authorize offices to communicate with the proper authorities, including regulatory agencies, as to the status of the enquiry, its findings, as well as actions taken by the company; and to prepare a final report regarding the findings of the probe and the recommendation of the committee with respect to internal policies and procedures related to these findings.”

In other words, the auditors hired will be in full command of the investigation.

If someone wants to point out the risk of partisanship on the panel, therefore, it would be that it is “contra” rather than “pro.”

The Mythical VV

Because there is a great deal of mystification in this whole story and the “case” of Venina Velosa is one such story.

Venina, as we all remember, surfaced in December with her accusations that “[CEO Graça Foster] knew.”

Today the Estadão has printed the entire report of the internal committee formed in April to publish a report on November 7.

In other words, more than a month before Venina Velosa da Fonseca  “remembered” her supposed warnings to Graça.

Even though she had been named in an investigation that found her liable for at least four irregularities (politely called “non-compliance.)

The first of these, listed as 6.1, was the “drawing and quartering” of the bidding process for the famous Power House of the Abreu e Lima Refinery, where there appears to have been practiced an enormous overpricing.

Next, in  6.2, the report describe the negotiation — post-auction  – of the figures, producing a “discount” of R$ 34.2 million, of which the sum of R$ 25 million simply “disappeared.” More funds were conceded to the works contractor Alusa nevertheless.

The “non-compliance” identified as 6.5 refers to the failure to comply with an instruction to convoke a new group of companies for an auction, which failed. Point 6.9 has to do with the lack of legal opinions to be issued by Venina and Pedro Barusco.

All of which goes to say that even before her “revelations” — “Graça knew” — based entirely on ambiguous e-mails, Venina had been found liable, inside the company, for conduct that was at a minimum lax and negligent during public tenders worth millions.

Just one month after being found liable [and scheduled to be dismissed], she suddenly remembers “ah, a Graça knew about it …”