In a case that may well be a world record, a Brazilian senator who was stripped of his position for corruption will reimburse 234 million dollars in public funds he embezzled in the late 1990s, Brazilian authorities informed.
“This is the largest amount to be repaid in a corruption case. A fair bit of the money has been recovered but this is compensation for public funds stolen,” chief prosecutor Hélia Bettero told reporters.
This is the largest “monetary compensation in the fight against corruption in Brazil, and probably the world,” she said.
Luiz Estevao, one of the richest men in Brazil, who served eight years in prison, is required to pay 468 million Brazilian reais (US$ 234 million) to the country’s Treasury.
The businessman has been accused of misappropriating funds meant to be used for the construction of a public building in São Paulo – a crime which led to his dismissal in 2000 and the loss of his political rights until 2008.
Estevao has agreed to repay part of his debt in 96 installments, with his remaining assets as collateral.
Only two senators have been dismissed by Parliament in Brazilian history: Estevao and Demóstenes Torres.
Torres was fired in July because of his alleged links with bookies. He was arrested in February.
It is expected that today in the mensalão trial (Penal Case 470), the rapporteur, justice Joaquim Barbosa, will respond to the vote on Thursday by the auditor, justice Ricardo Lewandowski.
In his vote on Thursday, contrary to the vote by Barbosa, Lewandowski absolved deputy João Paulo Cunha (PT-São Paulo) (who was president of the Chamber of Deputies at the time the mensalão scandal took place) and the advertising agency owners, Marco Valério, Cristiano Paz and Ramon Hollerbach of misappropriation of public funds in a deal between the Chamber of Deputies and Valério’s advertising agency.
Lewandowski went on to also absolve Valério and his partners, Paz and Hollerback, of active corruption and malfeasance – crimes that Barbosa said they committed.
After the Lewandowski vote, Barbosa demanded a replication, declaring that he wanted to “clear up some points made by the auditor.” At that point a heated discussion began as Lewandowski demanded the right to follow with his own rejoinder.
The Chief Justice, Carlos Ayres Britto, was not pleased with the idea, pointing out that if there were going to be endless replications and rejoinders the trial would never end.
He went on to say that Barbosa, as the rapporteur, had a right to express an opinion after the auditor because his position in the process was one of preeminence.
At that point, Lewandowski expressed indignation saying that he and Chief Justice had different concepts of the roles of rapporteur and auditor and that if he was not allowed to respond he would not attend today’s session.