MP says ''mensalão'' negotiated political support

11/04/2006 - 20h04

Mylena Fiori
Reporter - Agência Brasil

Brasília – In an investigation that ran parallel to the Parliamentary Investigative Commissions (CPIs), the country's chief prosecutor (procurador-geral da República), Antonio Fernando Souza, has announced that the Federal Prosecution Office (Ministério Público Federal) can confirm the existence of a "complex scheme to negotiate political support, pay PT debts and cover the costs of election campaigns by the PT and its political allies." All of which is commonly known as the "mensalão" scandal, or Big Monthly Allowance, in which the government supposedly paid some members of Congress to vote favorably.

According to the report that Souza is sending to the Supreme Court (STF), where the case will now be dealt with because some of the accused are elected officials, there is proof of "a sophisticated criminal organization... that was professionally structured for the practice of crimes such as embezzlement, money laundering, active corruption, fraudulent management and other forms of fraud."

The report says there was a "core" in the scheme consisting of José Dirceu (the former presidential Chief of Staff), and Delúbio Soares, Sílvio Pereira, and José Genoíno (all former high-ranking officials of the PT).

The next ring in the scheme consisted of Marcos Valerio and his partners in the advertising business who "received illegal advantages from members of the government and contracts." The report specifically cites advertising contracts with the Chamber of Deputies and the Banco do Brasil. Valerio used money he collected to form a slush fund that financed election campaigns.

Finally, there was a third level of corruption where the directors of the Banco Rural laundered money for the others in exchange for "illegal advantages for themselves."

The result of all this, says the MP report, was a division of political spoils (jobs in government, mainly) in exchange for supporting government projects. The main consequence of that was "diverting and misuse of public monies to finance millionaire campaigns, besides enriching members of the government, politicians, businessmen and lobbyists illegally."

The Souza report says the "embryo" of the scheme was in the irregular financing of the Eduardo Azeredo (PSDB) campaign for governor of Minas Gerais in 1998.

Translation: Allen Bennett