Brazil: Brasília’s Bribery Scandal Inquiry Shut Down on an Odd Excuse

Alirio NetoThe Parliamentary Investigative Commission (CPI) in the Federal District Legislative Assembly that was set up this week to investigate the alleged bribery ring involving local politicians and contractors was suddenly shut down by the chairman, assemblyman Alirio Neto (PPS).

Alirio and colleagues who support governor José Roberto Arruda, who is accused of being the ringleader of the corruption scheme, based their decision to terminate the work of the CPI on a court ruling from January 20.

The decision by the 7th Court of Public Finance of the Federal District had two parts. First, all the assemblymen accused of being involved in the bribery scheme were to be removed from any CPIs investigating the scheme. Second, any decisions made by the legislature in which those deputies participated were declared null.

The court ruling named eight assemblymen and two substitutes. According to Alirio and the governor’s allies, the assemblymen cited by the court were actively involved in selecting members of the CPI, as well as participating in other decisions. Therefore, all was null.

Arruda has a large majority in the assembly. The investigative commission that was shut down had only one opposition assemblyman, Paulo Tadeu (PT), and he was the only one opposed to stopping the work, but, of course, was overruled.

“Nobody, not the judge, not the government lawyers, ordered the CPI to be shut down,” he lamented in vain.

In practical terms, the end of the CPI means the end of testimony by the whistleblower, Durval Barbosa, the former secretary of Institutional Relations, who gave the police videotapes of Arruda and the others receiving money. Barbosa was scheduled to speak to the CPI on January 26.

In response to accusations that his decision was an example of political maneuvering, Alirio said that it was the judge who was maneuvering things.

Slow Beginning

The first deposition to the Federal Police in the Pandora’s Box bribery case has been postponed. Fábio Simão, the former chief of staff for governor José Roberto Arruda, was supposed to face questioning but his lawyers requested more time to examine documents. They were granted their request.

The Pandora’s Box bribery case is in the Superior Appellate Court (Superior Tribunal Justiça – STJ). The case is based on evidence (videotapes and recordings) and testimony furnished to the police by Durval Barbosa who was formerly the secretary of Institutional Relations in the administration of governor José Roberto Arruda.

Barbosa says Fábio Simão was the person who “managed contracts with outsourced services for the government of the Federal District (GDF).” In that position he “collected money for bribes” from the contractors and passed it on to people governor Arruda indicated.

On Wednesday a retired policeman (policial civil), Marcelo Toledo Watson, who is also accused of raising money for bribes by shaking down contractors, was sworn in to give a deposition at the Federal Police.

But he did not say a word, shielded by a court order granted by the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, Gilmar Mendes, which allowed him to remain silent.

Marcelo Toledo Watson will return to the Federal Police in about a month. No specific date was set for Fábio Simão to return. The Federal Police told reporters that more depositions are scheduled. But they did not say who was going to be heard.

ABr

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