NEWS IN ENGLISH – Joaquim Barbosa finds nine mensalão defendants guilty of money laundering

12/09/2012 10:55

Débora Zampier       Reporter Agencia Brasil

Brasilia – Voting in the Brazilian Supreme Court is open and transparent. During the sessions when the justices vote they make oral presentations of their opinions.

Yesterday the relator in Penal Case 470, the mensalão, justice Joaquim Barbosa, took all afternoon to read his vote in the money laundering part of the case (in his role as relator, Barbosa has divided the mensalão into seven parts). Barbosa laid out his argument carefully because proving that money laundering took place is considered essential to the prosecution’s accusation that regular payments were made to politicians.

According to Barbosa, the money laundering took place in three stages: (1) through the use of false documents and accounting fraud in the advertising agencies and Banco Rural, (2) bogus bank loans were created so that (3) under-the-table payments could be made to politicians linked to the PT.

Barbosa said six members of the so-called publicity core (“núcleo publicitário”) of the mensalão scheme were guilty of money laundering: Marcos Valério, Ramon Hollerbach, Cristiano Paz (these four defendants had already been found guilty by a majority of the justices in other parts of the case), plus Rogério Tolentino, Simone Vasconcelos and Geiza Dias. Finally, Barbosa ruled that three former officials at the Banco Rural, members of the so-called financial core (“núcleo financeiro”), Kátio Rabello, José Roberto Salgado and Vinícius Samarane, were also guilty of money laundering (these three defendants had already been found guilty of bank fraud (“gestão fraudulenta”) by a majority of the justices in a prior part of the mensalão trial).

In his oral presentation, Barbosa emphasized that in his opinion the defendants were all active and willing participants in the criminal ring. And he emphatically rejected one of the main defense arguments: “The excuse that somebody committed this crime to protect his job does not apply in this case,” declared the relator.

Defendants in the so-called political core (“núcleo politico”) of the mensalão case, that is, the politicians who received bribes, will be judged in a future part of the trial. According to the prosecution (“MPF”), they used middlemen and fronts (“intermediaries e laranjas”) to make cash withdrawals at the Banco Rural so they would not be identified.

In Brazil, money laundering is a crime that carries a sentence of three to ten years, plus a fine.

 The sentences of the defendants found guilty will only be set at the end of the trial after all seven parts of the mensalão case have been judged. The seven parts of the case, as sliced up by the relator, correspond more or less to the seven different crimes that were committed. It must be kept in mind that there are a total of 36 defendants in this case and many of them are charged with multiple crimes.

Allen Bennett – translator/editor The News in English

Link - Joaquim Barbosa condena nove réus do mensalão por lavagem de dinheiro