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Cablegate: Brazil - Corruption Scandal Update, Week of 29

This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.

C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 03 BRASILIA 002348

SIPDIS

TREASURY FOR PARODI, STATE PLASS TO USTR AND USAID/LAC/AA

E.O. 12958: DECL: 09/02/2015
TAGS: PGOV PREL ECON BR
SUBJECT: BRAZIL - CORRUPTION SCANDAL UPDATE, WEEK OF 29
AUGUST - 02 SEPTEMBER 2005

REF: A. BRASILIA 2219
B. BRASILIA 2150
C. BRASILIA 2082
D. BRASILIA 2025
E. BRASILIA 1979
F. BRASILIA 1874
G. BRASILIA 1973
H. BRASILIA 1631
I. BRASILIA 2242
J. BRASILIA 2237
K. BRASILIA 2305

Classified By: POLITICAL COUNSELOR DENNIS HEARNE. REASONS: 1.4
(B)(D).

1. (SBU) SUMMARY. A joint report by the two lead
congressional committees investigating Brazil's interlocking
corruption scandals (refs) this week recommended the
expulsion from Brazil's congress of 17 legislators on
suspicion of taking bribes for votes from a PT party
affiliated money man, and also cited for expulsion former
minister Jose Dirceu as the likely mastermind of the scheme.
Senate President Renan Calheiros ordered the three
congressional committees (CPIs) involved in investigating the
scandals to streamline and focus their efforts. In one
committee hearing this week, the brother of Celso Daniel, a
PT mayor murdered in 2002, alleged that senior Lula aide
Gilberto Carvahlo and Dirceu were both involved in kickback
schemes in the municipality of Santo Andre, Sao Paulo that
may be linked to Daniel's killing. And Dirceu, showing his
continued power within the PT, won out in an internal
struggle with interim party president Tarso Genro, who
announced he would not seek the party presidency in the PT's
September election. END SUMMARY.

JOINT CPI REPORT ACCUSES 18 CONGRESSMEN OF CORRUPTION
--------------------------------------------- --------

2. (U) On 1 September a joint report was released by the two
Congressional Inquiry Committees (CPIs) on the Postal Service
and vote-buying allegations recommending the expulsion from
congress of 18 congressmen. Former cabinet minister and PT
strongman Jose Dirceu is cited in the report, based on
testimony and circumstantial evidence, as the probable
mastermind of payoffs for votes to allied congressmen and
parties. Dirceu called the accusations baseless and vowed to
fight the process against him in both the congress and
judicial system. The report accuses the rest of the cited
legislators of actually withdrawing funds -- either
personally or through staff or family proxies -- from the
accounts of Marcos Valerio, the private sector money man at
the center of the illicit finance scandals linked to elements
of Lula's PT party (refs). The report found that evidence
accumulated by investigators to date "makes it irrefutable
that moneys were paid to congressmen and directors of parties
integrated in the government's support base..." and that the
accusations by PTB deputy Roberto Jefferson of regular PT
payoffs to congressmen and allied party figures that sparked
the current crisis do "correspond to facts." Chamber of
Deputies President Severino Cavalcanti has yet to approve the
report and forward it to the Ethics Committee, which is
responsible for starting procedures against the cited
congressmen. Statements by Cavalcanti earlier in the week
claiming that the payoff scheme had not been proven and
suggesting he would recommend mild punishment for implicated
congressmen caused derisive reactions in both the media and
congress, including angry calls for Cavalcanti's removal from
his position on the Chamber floor by Green Party deputy
Fernando Gabeira. Cavalcanti subsequently walked back from
his remarks, but is still seen as inclined to slow the
process and engineer a vague outcome that lets many accused
legislators off the hook. On 2 September, the Chamber's
Constitution and Justice Committee ordered that all expulsion
motions must be voted in full plenary in the lower house,
regardless of whether the Ethics Committee, Chamber
presidency or other committees recommend suspension of any of
the processes. The Brazilian media interpreted the order as
an impediment to further efforts by Cavalcanti to manipulate
the proceedings behind the scenes.

3. (U) If found guilty, the following congressmen could be
expelled from Congress and lose their right to stand for
public office for eight years:
- Jose Dirceu (PT) (former minister of the civil
household in Lula's cabinet)
- Sandro Mabel (PL)
- Wanderval dos Santos (PL)
- Roberto Brant (PFL)
- Roberto Jefferson (PTB) (case already under
investigation by the Ethics Committee)
- Carlos "Bispo" Rodrigues (PL)
- Valdemar Costa Neto (PL) (resigned)
- Joao Magno (PT)
- Joo Paulo Cunha (PT)
- Paulo Rocha (PT)
- Romeu Queiroz (PTB)
- Professor Luizinho (PT)
- Josias Gomes (PT)
- Jose Mentor (PT)
- Jose Janene (PP)
- Pedro Correa (PP)
- Pedro Henry (PP)
- Vadao Gomes (PP)
- Jose Borba (PMDB)

COORDINATING THE CPI'S
----------------------

4. (SBU) The joint report released this week recommending
expulsion of the eighteen congressmen is an interim document,
not a final product for either of the authoring CPIs, which
are continuing their work. The joint report does represent a
first effort at improved coordination among the three
separate CPIs established by the Brazilian Congress to look
into the interlocking scandals. The three committees have
competed, as congressmen showboated for media attention and
concentrated on sensational testimony, while mounds of
documentary information went unassessed. For many media and
political observers, the politicized and duplicative work of
three committees examining intersecting issues and often the
same witnesses may threaten the chances for coherent outcomes
that clearly assign guilt. This week Senate Chairman Renan
Calheiros called for a meeting between the CPIs' presidents
and rapporteurs to coordinate agendas and divide
responsibilities. As a result, the Postal Service CPI will
now examine the origins of the illegal funds that were
funneled to PT campaign coffers through Marcos Valerio's
accounts. The CPI on bribery for votes will focus more
specifically on illicit payoffs to congressmen. And the CPI
on bingo games will investigate bribery and kick back schemes
on contracts in PT-led municipalities in Sao Paulo, in
addition to the connection of the bingo houses with money
laundering, organized crime, and illegal campaign financing.
How this rationalization of labor works out in practice
remains to be seen.

THE GHOST OF CELSO DANIEL
-------------------------

5. (SBU) On 1 September, Jose Francisco Daniel, the brother
of the late PT mayor of Santo Andre Celso Daniel, testified
before the CPI on bingo games and municipal corruption.
According to Francisco Daniel, his brother was involved in
2000-2002 in a corruption scheme to funnel payoffs on
municipal contracts to PT campaign coffers, at the direction
of Lula's cabinet chief Gilberto Carvalho (then a campaign
officer for Lula) and former minister Jose Dirceu (then
president of the PT). The mayor decided to denounce the
scheme after he discovered that part of the money was being
diverted for personal corruption, Franciso Daniel said.
Celso Daniel produced a dossier naming names and providing
evidence of other PT members' involvement, which ultimately
led to his abduction and killing in 2002, according to his
brother. Francisco Daniel claimed it was Carvalho himself
who told him on 26 January 2002 -- six days after Celso
Daniel's murder -- about the corruption scheme and Daniel's
intentions to denounce it. Carvalho, according to Franciso
Daniel, said that the moneys were taken to Jose Dirceu and
used in the campaign of Marta Suplicy (former PT mayor of Sao
Paulo) and other PT campaigns. Franciso Daniel further
claimed that there were two witnesses to the conversation.
Carvalho released a public statement denying all the
accusations and Jose Dirceu reiterated his ongoing law suit
against Francisco Daniel for slander. (Note: Sao Paulo civil
police recently reopened a criminal investigation of Celso
Daniel's murder, which will run concurrently with an ongoing
state Public Ministry inquiry. End note.)

PT'S INTERNAL DISPUTE: DIRCEU WINS BATTLE AGAINST GENRO
--------------------------------------------- ----------

6. (SBU) On 29 August, former Education Minister and interim
PT president Tarso Genro announced he would not run for party
presidency in the upcoming September internal elections,
marking a victory for former chief of staff Jose Dirceu.
Genro had advocated a major re-orientation of the party and
demanded that Dirceu abandon his aspirations for party
leadership (Dirceu refused). During a press conference,
Genro stated that he was stepping down because "the party was
unwilling to change its ways ... we proposed a vision of
breaking (with the past) and that isn't what we're seeing."
Former Social Security and Labor Minister and current PT
secretary general Ricardo Berzoni announced his candidacy in

SIPDIS
replacement of Genro's. Genro, Dirceu and Berzoini are
members of the PT moderate wing (known as "the majority
camp"), which steered the party toward the political center
in the late 1990s but which is also now associated with the
scandals rocking the PT and GOB. The internal divisions are
apparently strengthening the candidacy of more leftist wings
of the party, who are outraged by the corruption allegations
and also critical of the GOB's fiscal austerity. A PT member
and congressional staffer, in a conversation with POL FSNs,
opined that the victory of Deputy Maria do Rosario, from the
party's left-to-center wing, is regarded as increasingly
possible in the party's September election.

7. (C) Comment. These events taken together made for a
significant week in the 100 day-and-counting crisis
embroiling Brazilian politics. First, the joint report by
two CPIs recommending expulsion of 18 congressmen is a
benchmark in the crisis, seen here as a confirmation that the
vote bribery allegations are fact and that the cited
congressmen and perhaps others still to be named will be held
accountable. Dirceu and others will try various tactics to
forestall their expulsions, but the accusation of guilt, at
least in the political forum of the congress, is now
formalized. Second, if the three CPIs can succeed in
streamlining and improving their work, critical and still
largely unanswered questions about the origins of the vast
amounts of money plowed into Valerio's illicit apparatus, the
breadth of the payoff schemes, and the early origins of the
PT's illicit financial operations (i.e., in municipalities
like Riberao Preto and Santo Andre) can be more effectively
addressed. Third, the testimony of Jose Franciso Daniel
brought the national spotlight back onto the scabrous case of
the kidnapping, torture and murder of Celso Daniel in 2002 --
unquestionably the most hideous skeleton in the PT's closet.
The danger of serious new revelations in the case that can
further prejudice the image of the PT and Lula's erstwhile
inner circle increases with the congressional attention,
which now coincides with ongoing Public Ministry and new
civil police investigations into links between the killing,
kickback schemes in Santo Andre's municipal government, and
PT campaigns in 2002. Finally, the defeat in PT circles this
week of Tarso Genro sets the stage for a dramatic face off in
the party's September elections, one that could see the
implosion of the PT in its known form, with hard to predict
consequences.

DANILOVICH

© Scoop Media

 
 
 
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