Veja, the weekly magazine with the largest circulation in Brazil (about 1.1 million copies) claims in its last edition that the Brazilian Sports minister, Orlando Silva, has been involved in corruption actions totaling millions of dollars originally destined to promote sports among children from poor households.
Allegedly, the program Second Half in the last eight years could have been involved in the embezzlement of almost the equivalent of US$ 23 million dollars and could include in the scam Orlando Silva’s predecessor in the job, Agnelo Queiroz, currently governor of Brasília Federal District.
The magazine, famous for exposing corruption cases that have knocked out several ministers from the cabinet of President Dilma Rousseff, says the source of information is a policeman, João Dias Ferrerira, together with Minister Silva, both members of the Communist Party of Brazil, who was arrested last year for having pocketed money from a non government organization, which received monthly installments from the Sports Ministry.
According to Ferreira the NGO received funds from the Second Half program but previously they had to agree on a percentage-skim sometimes up to 20% with the Ministry of Sports. The Communist Party would indicate members who would supply the false bills to make the operation ‘legal’.
The messenger and ‘percentage’ collector Celio Soares Pereira would receive the ‘skim’ from the NGO regularly (almost monthly) and would deliver the money to aides close to the minister. On one occasion according to Pereira, he handed the money directly to Orlando Silva in the garage of the Sports ministry.
“I collected the money from Federal District NGO representatives that received funds from the ‘Second Half’ program and I delivered it in a card box to the minister. They were all 50 and 100 real bills (equivalent to 28 and 57 dollars)”, said the messenger to Veja.
However Minister Silva sent a letter to Veja, which was published in the magazine, denying all allegations which he describes as “false, senseless, fabricated and irrational”, and at the same time announces he would begin legal actions against the ‘slanders’.
Since President Rousseff took office last January first, her cabinet has lost five ministers, four of them because of corruption claims published in the press. So far a cabinet chief, Transport, Tourism and Agriculture have had to step down, while the head of Defense went down following public derogatory remarks towards some of his colleagues.
All of this happens at a time Brazil is getting ready to host two world class sports events: soccer’s World Cup, in 2014 and the 2016 Olympics. “True or false this story could not have come at a worse time,” a FIFA representative commented.