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O Globo and the Gatekeeper | SwissLeaks Brazil

968full-ava-gardner

Source: GGN

Topic: Access to SwissLeaks data

In the days when she was the loveliest woman on the planet, Ava Gardner visited Rio and stayed at the Copacabana Palace. At night, she went down to the hotel bar, had a few and engaged in comic banter with the piano player. Legend has it that they both retired to her room. Faced with the lady’s splendor, however, the pianist failed to perform …

Fernando Rodrigues has had his moment with Ava Gardner: Exclusive access to material that many reporters would sacrifice a finger to obtain, an enormous list of offshore accounts in a bank specializin there are lig in hiding the identity of its account holders.

Of the names found on this list, the most innocent were ex-husbands trying to hide assets from  their ex-wives. All in all, however, it was a bank specializing in hiding the identity of major financial operators, and the most substantial money-laundering scheme yet discovered in this age of the Internet.

With thousands of names to check, it should certainly be possible to produce an X-ray of political and financial scandals during an entire era of Brazilian history. And with Google at hand to check names and supplement information.

On Google, there are lists of traffickers; politicians involved in accusations; civil servants and private businessmen under suspicion; and political operators from all political parties. It is a complex task to compare names on the list with those of the suspects. It demands competence and effort.

Finding Fault

So what is holding Rodrigues back, then?

One factor is his characteristic difficulty handling complex topics. This should not be a factor, given his years covering the Brazilian debt market in New York. But he lacks the persistence to take on complex topics and the discernment to filter what he has learned.

That is how the enormous confusion he made of the Brazilian offshore tax haven affair came about. He did not know how to separate the fiscal operations of global companies — set up, mainly, to receive legitimate assets… — with money laundering. He promoted a pointless scandal involving two huge advertisers – Itaú and Bradesco – and paid the price.

Under the Gunavaava

The author reavafers to a case from late 2014 in which transactions of the two banks rendered tax savings of R$ 200 million. At around the same time, he was fired by the Folha, eventually settling down in the Universo Online portal. For more, see below …

Now, with the HSBC list before him — the Ava Gardner dreamed of by all red-blooded reporters, though without the backing of a mainstream news vehicle — Rodriguez took the easy way out.

Discernment is needed in order to analyze the names, knowing that sooner or later your criticisms will be judged by colleagues and the public.

But what risk is there in publishing names which, later, turn out to be friends with the owner? How much room for maneuver is there to attack allies? And what if an accusation is interpreted as positive for the government? And what if you report the lack of interest in the topic into a Carnavalesque spectacle?

From the beginning, the journalist made a decision that violates all the known principles of journalism: rather than printing an “exclusive,” he handed the list over to public authorities.

The point of reporter-source confidentiality and freedom of the press consists precisely in the right to go after official documents and publish them, independent of bureaucratic systems. That Rodrigues received the documents and handed them to the authorities attests to … I am not quite sure what.

He has accepted his journalistic limits and began fleeing from “exclusives” the way the devil flees the cross.

With O Globo taking the field, there will be coverage, but always according to filters imposed by the mother ship.

Pissing off the Advertiser

In the late 1990s, Fernando Rodrigues was a journalist trusted by Folha management to handle topics of interest to the Folha, especially regarding operations carried out by Paulo Maluf and former Senator Gilberto Miranda.

Fernando continued to evolve as a journalist and accumulated a decent resumé, winning various prizes for investigative journalism. But he continued being used by management for confidential missions.

His final report was a bombastic article on the transactions of Bradesco and Itau in fiscal paradises. Though legal, these transactions — part of a tax strategy … were treated by the article as a scandal.