Brazil President Michel Temer Says Graft Claims Are ‘Lies’

Reed Johnson & Luciana Magalhaes (with Paulo Sotero contributing) – The Wall Street Journal, 06/16/2016

SÃO PAULO—Brazil’s interim President Michel Temer denounced as “irresponsible lies” allegations that he helped broker illegal campaign contributions as part of a bribes-for-contracts scheme centered on state oil company Petróleo Brasileiro SA, even as a third cabinet minister resigned over similar charges.

In a brief Thursday morning TV address, Mr. Temer denied the claims made in plea-bargain testimony by Sergio Machado, former head of Petrobras Transporte SA, or Transpetro, a fuel-transportation and logistics subsidiary.

Mr. Machado has testified that in 2012 he organized, at Mr. Temer’s request, a donation of 1.5 million reais (about $432,000) from a construction firm to Mr. Temer’s political party, in exchange for Transpetro contracts. Mr. Temer dismissed the accusations as “frivolousness.”

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Brazil Police Raid Office of Olympic Site Building Consortium

Paul Kiernan – The Wall Street Journal, 06/07/2016

RIO DE JANEIRO—Brazil’s Federal Police raided the headquarters of a consortium of companies building one of the main 2016 Olympic centers on Tuesday, fueling concerns that malfeasance may have tainted Games-related construction projects.

Investigators say they have uncovered evidence of fraud and falsification of documents related to disposal of construction waste—mainly dirt— at Rio’s Deodoro sports complex. A federal judge has also frozen 128 million reais ($37 million) in federal funding from state bank Caixa Econômica Federal to pay for the project.

The consortium building Deodoro consists of Brazilian construction giants Queiroz Galvão and OAS SA, both of which have been implicated in a massive graft scandalsurrounding state oil company Petróleo Brasileiro SA, or Petrobras. Several executives from OAS have been sentenced to up to 16 years in prison for corruption-related offenses, and the company is in bankruptcy protection. Two executives of Queiroz Galvão, which is under investigation, were temporarily arrested in late 2014.

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Brazil Olympic Venues Targeted In Corruption Probe

Brad Brooks – Huffington Post, 05/25/2016

Brazilian investigators have expanded their probe into possible corruption around the staging of the Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro this August to include all the venues and services financed with federal funds, a lead prosecutor told Reuters.

Federal investigations have previously focused on “legacy” modernization projects not directly tied to the Games but this newly disclosed probe includes Olympic Park and the Deodoro area where Olympic venues are located, federal prosecutor Leandro Mitidieri said.

“It’s not just the physical works we’re looking at – it is contracts for services, security, everything that used federal funds,” he told Reuters from his Rio de Janeiro office late on Tuesday.

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Brazil’s Vice President, Michel Temer, won’t face inquiry over Petrobras

Simon Romero – The New York Times, 05/03/2016

RIO DE JANEIRO — Brazil’s vice president, Michel Temer, who is preparing to take control of the country’s embattled government as early as next week, will not face an investigation over testimony implicating him in the colossal graft scandal engulfing Petrobras, the national oil company, federal investigators said Tuesday.

Rodrigo Janot, the prosecutor general, determined that the accusations against Mr. Temer were not substantial enough at this point to merit an inquiry, according to a spokeswoman for Mr. Janot’s office in the capital, Brasília. Mr. Temer, 75, has been maneuvering to replace President Dilma Rousseff if the Senate votes next week to suspend her and put her on trial.

The decision bolsters Mr. Temer’s standing at a critical juncture when powerful figures across Brazil’s political class are battling accusations of corruption and abuse of power, including various top allies that Mr. Temer is considering for cabinet posts as well as officials in Ms. Rousseff’s leftist Workers’ Party.

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Brazil’s crusading corruption investigation is winding down

Sabrina Valle and Jessica Brice – Bloomberg, 05/04/2016

The crusading federal judge behind Brazil’s explosive corruption investigation, facing the limits of his mandate and signs of political pushback, sees his role in the case winding down by the end of the year, a turning point in a probe that has helped push the president to the brink of impeachment.

For more than two years, Judge Sergio Moro and his team of prosecutors and police in the southern town of Curitiba have tracked the $1.8-billion graft scandal across four continents. They uncovered a crime ring so epic that it shattered Brazil’s political and economic leadership and helped tip the nation into its worst recession in a century.

Now, legal challenges are chipping away at Moro’s jurisdiction over executives amid criticism that he’s over-reaching. Brazilian law also bars him from going after sitting politicians accused of graft. So he expects significantly fewer new operations under his watch starting next year, according to three top officials who asked not to be named relaying details from private conversations. The press-shy judge declined to comment.

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Brazil government denies illegal funding, says can defeat impeachment

Silvio Cascione and Anthony Boadle – Reuters, 04/07/2016

Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff’s government rejected new accusations on Thursday that her election was illegally funded with graft money and expressed confidence it can block an attempt to impeach her.

Executives from Brazil’s second-largest engineering company testified that Rousseff’s 2014 re-election campaign was partly funded by kickbacks from large infrastructure projects, according to a report by the Folha de S. Paulo newspaper.

The testimony, part of a plea bargain with 11 executives of builder Andrade Gutierrez [AGIS.UL], would be the strongest link yet between Rousseff’s campaign and a widening corruption investigation that has toppled her associates and dozens of other political and corporate officials.

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Insider’s account of how graft Fed Brazil’s political crisis

Simon Romero – New York Times, 04/04/2016

BRASÍLIA — The silver-haired senator from Brazil’s western frontier was still in his pajamas when federal police agents banged on the door of his suite at the Royal Tulip, the futuristic luxury hotel that serves as a bastion for much of Brazil’s political elite. It was 6 a.m.

The agents were armed with a secret recording that sounded like the plot for a Hollywood thriller. The senator, Delcídio do Amaral, had been caught detailing an elaborate plan for an oilman ensnared in Brazil’s spiraling graft scandal to flee the country on a private plane.

Mr. Amaral, 61, was until his arrest in Brasília that morning in late November the governing party’s most powerful leader in the Senate. He quickly sought a plea agreement, but prosecutors let him fester in prison for weeks, making a deal only after the disgraced senator provided one stunning disclosure after another that betrayed his former comrades and brought the government of President Dilma Rousseff ever closer to collapse.

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