Brazilians Are Shocked, Shocked at Corruption!

October 21, 2014

Antonio Prata – The New York Times, 10/21/2014

We Brazilians suffer from a curious cognitive dysfunction, which occurs with the same frequency in our population as lactose intolerance does among the Japanese, or the inclination for punning among the English. We have the ability to be outraged by corruption, while engaging in our own petty versions of it.

As the second round of presidential voting approaches on Sunday, this evil is spreading like an epidemic. In bars, on the streets and on social networks, advocates of Dilma Rousseff, the Workers Party candidate for re-election, and Senator Aécio Neves, of the Brazilian Social Democracy Party, never tire of reminding us of the “robberies” that their rivals commit.

Workers Party supporters cite the re-election scandal in which Social Democrats were accused of bribing congressmen to approve a constitutional amendment allowing Fernando Henrique Cardoso to compete again for the presidency in 1998. Social Democrats’ supporters mention the “Mensalão,” a case in which congressmen allied with the Workers Party regularly received money diverted from Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva’s illegal campaign contributions. Those not involved in the party squabbles tend to blame all the politicians, as if the politicians were a separate species, able to corrupt our reputable citizens.

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Scandal in Brazil: who cares?

October 14, 2014

Jonathan Wheatley – Financial Times, 10/14/2014

Do Brazilian voters care whether their politicians are corrupt? More particularly, do they care about political scandal at Petrobras, the state-controlled but publicly traded oil group that is both national champion and national treasure, a cherished symbol of Brazilian potential and prowess? If you believe the latest opinion polls they either do care, in spades, or they don’t, not one bit.

 

Stories of kick-backs to political parties from companies winning contracts from Petrobras have been swirling around for months. The suspicion – hotly denied by those allegedly involved, at least until recently – was that that directors at Petrobras, appointed as standard practice by politicians, were returning the favour with generous cash payments, mostly to their patrons in the ruling leftwing Workers Party, or PT.

Many expected the accusations to do serious damage to the re-election campaign of the PT’s Dilma Rousseff, Brazil’s president and former chair of the Petrobras board. In the event, in the run-up to the election on October 5, the scandal appeared to make little difference and Rousseff got the most votes, although not enough to avoid a run-off on October 26 against Aécio Neves of the centre-right PSDB.

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Petrobras puts Brazil President Dilma in hot seat

March 24, 2014

Kenneth Rapoza – Forbes, 3/23/2014

Petrobras’ PBR +0.78% problems are becoming Dilma’s problems.

Brazil’s oil and gas major, Petrobras, can do no right. And now President Dilma Rousseff is being blamed for the problems. Of course, she is being blamed by politicians who don’t want to see her re-elected in October.  They probably won’t succeed at dethroning her, but one thing is certain: the deterioration of the shining star of Brazil’s state owned enterprises happened on her watch. This election season, Dilma isn’t the only one in the cross hairs.  Petrobras is now her problem, too.

Not long ago, as in 2007, Petrobras was heralded as the Latin America Aramco, finding oil deep under the ocean floor far off the coast of Rio and São Paulo states.  Goldman Sachs once put a $60 price target on the stock in early summer 2008. Today, Petrobras shares trade under $12, and its market cap is smaller than Colombia’s EcoPetrol EC +0.99%.

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Brazil police trial airs judiciary’s flaws

December 18, 2013

John Lyons – Wall Street Journal, 12/18/2013

A murder trial here that brought attention to Brazilian police brutality is now shining light on something else: A court system that can take years to produce verdicts, sometimes leaving both defendants and accusers feeling bereft of justice.

On Monday, a judge declared a mistrial in the prosecution of four São Paulo state policemen who are charged with the shooting a suspect in their custody, Paulo Nascimento, as he pleaded for his life in November 2012.

Soon after the trial began, a three-way shouting match broke out between the defense attorney, the lead prosecutor and the judge over a procedural question. It descended into a crossfire of accusations of judicial favoritism and an unqualified expert witness. A new trial won’t start before late 2014, officials said.

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Brazil official resigns amid scandal

December 2, 2013

Press TV, 12/01/2013

Marcel Fiche’s resignation was announced by the office of Finance minister Guido Mantega on Saturday.

The decision to step down follows reports that Fiche and his technical advisor allegedly received about USD 25,700 from a communications company in exchange for a contract with the finance ministry.

“I have asked Minister Guido Mantega that I not return to cabinet at the end of my vacations,” Fiche stated in a statement on Friday.

Fiche also said the allegations against him were “lies,” adding that he wanted to contribute to a smooth and rapid investigation.

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Jailed at last

November 22, 2013

The Economist, 11/23/2013

AS CHIEF of staff to President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva in 2003-05, José Dirceu was the second most powerful man in Brazil. Then claims surfaced that he and other leaders of the ruling Workers’ Party (PT) were orchestrating a scheme to bribe allies in return for congressional support. Few Brazilians believed that Mr Dirceu, who resigned, would be charged, let alone convicted or jailed in a country where impunity for politicians has long been the norm. But on November 15th the supreme-court president, Joaquim Barbosa, issued warrants for the arrest of Mr Dirceu and 11 others among the 25 found guilty last year of, variously, bribery, money-laundering, misuse of public funds and conspiracy, in a case known to Brazilians as the mensalão (big monthly stipend).

Sharing Mr Dirceu’s Brasília prison cell are José Genoino and Delúbio Soares, formerly the PT’s president and treasurer respectively. Henrique Pizzolato, a former director of the state-controlled Banco do Brasil, guilty of laundering some of the money, quietly fled to Italy, where he also has citizenship, some weeks ago. Authorities there have hinted that his extradition would be more likely if Brazil rethought its 2010 decision to shelter Cesare Battisti, an Italian bomber facing a life sentence.

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Brazil “mensalao” corruption trial to be reopened

September 19, 2013

BBC News, 09/18/2013

Brazil’s Supreme Court has narrowly ruled in favour of reopening the country’s biggest corruption trial.

The court agreed that 12 of 25 people convicted in a scheme using public funds to pay parties for political support could have appeals heard.

The decision is set to anger many who expected the sentences to be upheld, correspondents say.

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