Ricardo Lewandowski: Brazil’s Rising Chief Justice

July 25, 2014

Shannon Sims – OZY, 7/25/2014

A chance encounter sometimes makes history.

Like when lawyer Ricardo Lewandowski’s mom invited his good childhood friend Laerte Demarchi to lunch in the early 1990s.

“I told her I already had plans, that I was meeting a union organizer at my dad’s restaurant,” Demarchi recalls. “She said to bring him over, too.”

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Brazil’s leading anti-corruption Justice announces he is stepping down

July 2, 2014

MercoPress, 6/30/2014

“He came to say goodbye, given that he will retire next month,” Renan Calheiros told reporters after a private meeting with the jurist. “It was a surprise and we’re very sorry, since he’s one of the best models the country has,” the senator added.

The chief justice met earlier Thursday with President Dilma Rousseff to inform her of his decision.

Barbosa, 59, was the first black jurist to head Brazil’s Supreme Court, elected by his 10 fellow justices in October 2012.

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Brazilian companies face heavy fines with new corruption law

February 18, 2014

Joe Leahy – The Financial Times, 2/18/2014

The period before Brazil’s annual carnival in late February is normally short of news. But this month, the nation’s media has been buzzing with the case of a man who fled the country after being convicted in Brazil’s biggest corruption case.

Henrique Pizzolato, the former marketing director of Banco do Brasil, the state-controlled bank, was allegedly found living in his nephew’s apartment in Maranello, Italy, by Italian police and is facing possible extradition.

He disappeared from Brazil last year after being sentenced to more than 12 years jail for his role in the Mensalão case, in which some of the nation’s most senior politicians were found guilty of vote-buying in Congress using public money.

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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 is entranced by a tale of love, taxes, and bribery

December 2, 2013

Simon Romero – The New York Times, 11/26/2013

There were the boxes of Cuban cigars, which cost about $500 each at a shop in Vila Nova Conceição, one of the most exclusive districts of São Paulo, and the $2,260 bottles of Vega Sicilia Único, a legendary Spanish red. Throw in a Porsche Cayenne, speedboat jaunts to tropical islands and all-night soirees with high-end escorts, and what do you get?

The unlikely lifestyle of a Brazilian tax inspector.

In one of the most salacious corruption scandals to captivate Brazil in years, the municipal government of São Paulo, the nation’s largest city, is reeling from revelations of a scheme in which investigators claim that a group of tax inspectors allowed construction companies to evade more than $200 million in taxes in exchange for bribes.

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Prison terms strike a blow against political corruption in Brazil

December 2, 2013

Vincent Bevins – The Los Angeles Times, 11/28/2013

In a country where less than 10% of prison inmates have finished high school, several major politicians and officials dealing with public funds are now behind bars in a corruption case.

After a long-running prosecution, the imprisonments have sent shock waves across the political and legal systems of a nation where widespread political corruption has long been a given but where dangerous prisons are usually reserved for the poor.

“The population has begun to believe that powerful people can be punished too,” Sao Paulo criminal attorney Rafael Tucherman said last week. “But the system continues to be the same.”

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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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The cost of corruption in Brazil could be up to $53 billion just this year alone

December 2, 2013

Anderson Antunes – Forbes, 11/28/2013

As many Brazilians are still watching incredulously the imprisonments of the principal figures in the Mensalão (“Big Monthly Payment”) scandal, the scheme in which public funds were used to buy political support for the then-Lula da Silva government and to pay off debts from election campaigns, one of the biggest questions surrounding the imbroglio is: how much money exactly was diverted into the pockets of corrupt officials and politicians?

According to the investigation initiated in 2005 and carried out by Brazil’s Public Ministry, the country’s Federal Police and the Brazilian Court of Audit, the huge cash-for-votes case involved some R$ 100 million ($43 million) siphoned from taxpayers’ money. No wonder why Brazil’s Attorney General Roberto Gurgel called it “the most daring and outrageous corruption scheme and embezzlement of public funds ever seen in Brazil.”

And that could just be the tip of the iceberg. A 2010 study by the FIESP (the Federation of Industries of Sao Paulo State, in its acronym in Portuguese), the average annual cost of corruption in Brazil is between 1.38% to 2.3% of the country’s total GDP. The World Bank lists Brazil in its database with a GDP of $2.253 trillion as of 2012, while the OECD expects Brazil to grow 2.5% this year.

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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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