The Brazilian minister who heads the government’s watchdog agency Controladoria-Geral da União, CGU – a kind of General Accounting Office), says that investigations into charges of corruption will continue even as officials resign or are fired. “The investigations go on independently. The reason is that the removal of those charged with corruption is not considered a punishment,” declared Jorge Hage.
With regard to the Ministry of Agriculture, Hage explained that the CGU was investigating charges that a lobbyist had free access to the ministry and actually participated in drawing up contracts for tender offers. “We have requested security camera tapes to verify if a lobbyist did in fact come and go freely in the building,” Hage explained.
The head of the CGU went on to point out that the former minister, Wagner Rossi, had already admitted to traveling in a jet that belonged to a farm manufacturing company that sold goods requiring approval by the ministry.
“The use of a private jet by the minister is not in question. We are concerned with other charges. At the moment, we have a team of auditors in the Ministry of Agriculture and they will be looking at computers,” declared Hage, who added that he will be in contact with the new minister to inform him of what the CGU is doing at the ministry of Agriculture.
Hage said that everything will be done respecting due process. And he pointed out that audits, which are supposed to be concluded in 60 days, were ongoing at the Ministry of Transportation departments known as “Dnit” (highway construction) and “Valec” (railroads).
Those audits, he reported, should be completed by the end of this month. Other audits, at the Ministry of Tourism, would terminate only in October.
As for the investigation of corruption and criminal activities, Hage said that would take longer than the audits. He revealed that some of the investigations could take as long as six to eight months, depending on the “human resources” needed.
Hage explained that at the moment no less than ten CGU commissions were investigating accusations of irregular activities at the ministries of Tourism, Agriculture and Agriculture, including subsidiary departments, such as Dnit, Valec and Conab. The minister added that he had problems with a shortage of personnel at CGU to deal with the enormous workload.
Meanwhile, a group of members of Congress visited Hage at the CGU and called for a rapid conclusion of the investigations into corruption. Randolfe Rodrigues (PSOL-Amapá) and Chico Alencar (PSOL-Rio de Janeiro) said the CGU should have more financial resources and personnel.
They also suggested that other watchdog agencies, such as the TCU, government prosecutors (PGR), the Federal Police and the National Justice Council (CNJ) could participate in the investigations. Rodrigues admitted that one of the problems was the misuse of parliamentary earmarks such as a fraudulent case at the Ministry of Tourism where something like 3 million reais (US$ 1.9 million) in a 4.4 million reais (US$ 2.8 million) contract just disappeared.