José Dirceu, Lula’s Chief of Staff, Was Mensalão’s Mastermind, Says Brazil Supreme

Former chief of staff, José Dirceu Brazil’s ex-president Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva’s chief of staff masterminded a vote-buying scheme by the ruling Workers Party in Brazil’s Congress, a Supreme Court justice said Wednesday, in the biggest corruption scandal in the country in 20 years.

Former chief of staff, José Dirceu, is among 37 former ministers, lawmakers, businessmen and bankers on trial before the Supreme Court over the scheme known as “mensalão” (big monthly allowance) that ran from 2002 to 2005 during Lula’s first term.

Charges against the accused range from embezzlement and money laundering to corruption and fraud. Those found guilty face up to 45 years in prison. The scandal nearly cost Lula his re-election in 2006. But the 66-year-old founder and leader of the leftist Workers Party was cleared.

Supreme Court justice Joaquim Barbosa, quoted by local media, said during the high-profile bribery trial that evidence showed Dirceu “masterminded the operations” of a former Workers Party treasurer and a businessman.

Barbosa said Dirceu, the ex-treasurer and a former ruling party president distributed money to lawmakers to “illegally secure the support of other political parties to form a ruling government coalition”.

Dirceu, regarded as Lula’s right-hand man, was forced to resign in 2005 when the graft scandal came to light. But he has always denied paying bribes to lawmakers. Prosecutors allege the bribe money was skimmed from the advertising budgets of state-owned companies through a company owned by Fernandes Valério.

On Monday the 11-member Supreme Court confirmed the existence of the vote-buying scheme from 2003 to 2005 and convicted 12 of 13 defendants linked to four parties in Lula’s government coalition at the time. None of the accused has been arrested, and none of them are in court.

Since the trial opened in early August, 22 of the defendants have been found guilty. But the sentences will not be announced until the end of the trial several weeks from now.

Lula who is recovering from throat cancer has previously insisted he was betrayed and offered public apologies on behalf of his party.

Last week he accused the opposition of trying to make political hay out of the scandal ahead of Sunday’s municipal elections.

This is Brazil’s highest-profile corruption scandal since president Fernando Collor de Mello resigned in 1992 after serving half of his four-year term in office. A Senate trial found him guilty of corruption and barred him from public office for eight years. However, he is now again in the Senate as an elected lawmaker.

Mercopress

Tags:

  • Show Comments (0)

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

comment *

  • name *

  • email *

  • website *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Ads

You May Also Like

Brazil Will Keep Growing Agricultural Exports to Arabs in 2010

The Middle East and North Africa are included in the action plans of Brazil’s ...

In Brazil While Some Cut Deforestation Others Cut More of the Amazon

With the current climate talks now underway in Poznan, the Brazilian government has finally ...

Brazil and Neighbors Warned by US to Think Twice Before Embracing Ahmadinejad

Hillary Clinton, the US Secretary of State, urged Latin American countries on Friday to ...

A Friendly Advice to Brazil’s Kaká: Keep Jesus off the Soccer Field

There has been a curious religious phenomenon in Brazilian football in the last decade ...

How Green Was My Vale

The sale of state-owned Vale do Rio Doce to the private sector was celebrated ...

Brazilian and Chilean Presidents Reiterate Opposition to Iraq War

Presidents of Brazil and Chile agreed this week to strengthen a strategic alliance and ...

Brazil’s Marfrig Expands Its Presence in Argentina with US$ 20-Million Feedlot

Quickfood, a meat processing group installed in Argentina, but that  belongs to the giant ...

Brazil Maps Its Subsoil

Brazilian President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva announced his country’s intention of expanding the ...

An Exchange

Debate Goes OnBy If you prick us do we not bleed? If you tickle ...