Brazil’s Sports minister, Orlando Silva, during testimony that lasted more than three hours, denied all accusations of embezzlement. The hearing took place in the Chamber of Deputies in Brazilian capital Brasília, before a joint session of the Financial Oversight and Control and Tourism and Sports commissions.
Silva denied that he received money from the Second Half Program in exchange for releasing funds to NGOs. The minister recognized that the charges were serious, but fired back:
“It is a serious matter when a weekly newsmagazine makes charges like these but does not present any proof,” said the minister.
He pointed out that he has personally asked the Federal Police and government attorneys to investigate the charges. “I have made my bank statements and telephone records available to the authorities,” he revealed.
In his testimony, Silva defended the Second Half Program and said that all suspect contracts were being examined by the government watchdog agency (Tribunal de Contas da União).
As for the person making the accusations, a policeman named João Dias Ferreira, the minister called him “dishonorable, a criminal, someone who had been arrested,” and said his information was from “a bandit source.”
As Silva testified before the joint commission, members of opposition parties met privately with Dias Ferreira. According to one of the leaders of the opposition, deputy Antonio Carlos Magalhães Neto (DEM-Bahia), “We were told shocking details that did not appear in the magazine article and given material evidence of wrongdoing by the minister and the ministry.”
Members of the opposition called the appearance of the minister before a parliamentary commission before the testimony of the accusation “pure grandstanding,” and announced they will request that testimony by Dias Ferreira be heard in the Chamber of Deputies.
Worried with the development of the new crisis in the government brought in by reports of corruption in the Ministry of Sports the Brazilian presidential palace has already announced that the imbroglio will cost the Brazil’s Communist Party (PCdoB) the control of that ministry.
The government told party leaders that the very image of the government of President Rousseff begins to be eroded. The communist party has been heading the ministry for nearly nine years since the beginning of the Lula administration having retained the position with Dilma Rousseff.
In Veja, a military policeman, João Dias Ferreira, declared that the minister was part of a scheme that embezzled money from the Second Half Program, which financed NGOs that ran projects to keep young, poor, at-risk children off the street by enrolling them in sports activities after school.
Orlando Silva is also expected to answer questions about the World Soccer Cup General Law for 2014 when Brazil will host the event. The international soccer governing body, FIFA, has expressed displeasure with some provisions in the law.
An opposition senator, Alvaro Dias (PSDB-PR) declared that he is interested in the activities of both Orlando Silva and the former minister of Sports, Agnelo Queiroz, who is now the governor of the Federal District.
On Monday, Silva declared that he repudiated the charges made by Dias vehemently and called the sources of the Veja article “bandits.” He added that the only time he met Dias was when he was the executive secretary of the Ministry of Sports when Agnelo Queiroz was the minister. At that time, according to Silva, a contract (as part of the Second Half Program) was signed with an NGO that Dias headed.
Minister Silva was in Guadalajara for the Pan American Games when the Veja article came out. He immediately returned to Brasilia and met with the presidential Chief of Staff, Gleisi Hoffman, in Brasilia, at her home, Sunday evening, October 16. He also requested an investigation of the charges by the Ministry of Justice and the Federal Police.
João Dias Ferreira, the policeman who made the accusations is a member of the Communist Party (PCdoB), as is Orlando Silva. Agnelo Queiroz was a member of the PCdoB, but is now in the PT.
The head of the Public Ethics Commission, which is housed in the presidency, Sepúlveda Pertence, called the accusations against the minister of Sports, Orlando Silva, “grave.” He then announced the commission will analyze the denouncement published in the weekly newsmagazine, Veja, that the minister received money embezzled from the Second Half Program run by the ministry to provide poor, at-risk children with an opportunity to practice sports after school instead of being out on the street.
Pertence (a former Supreme Court justice) commented that at the moment the charges may be “a little green,” but that accusing someone of bribery is always a serious matter, “depending on who makes it.”
He also informed that the commission spent the whole Monday analyzing charges of corruption against the minister of Sports, Orlando Silva.
The next day, on Tuesday, October 18, Pertence was asked about an article in the newspaper, Folha de S. Paulo, which reported that the commission decided to investigate corruption charges against former presidential Chief of Staff, Antonio Palocci, in June, just before he resigned, but that the decision was not made public.
Pertence declared that the commission’s decision in such cases is to always release the information as it was doing at this time with regard to the Orlando Silva case, but that in the case of Antonio Palocci, there was an “internal discrepancy” and the information that he was being investigated was not released to the public.