Paulo Roberto Costa, former director of the supplying department of Brazil’s state-owned oil multinational Petrobras, remained silent during his testimony on Wednesday, September 18, at the Mixed Congressional Committee of Investigation (CPMI).
The object of the investigation is a series of allegations over the company’s alleged illicit deals. Costa decided to avail himself of his right to remain silent, and refused to answer any of the questions posed by the congressmen.
The opposition asked the CPMI’s chairman to have the session held in secrecy, so as to give Costa the opportunity to speak without breaking a plea-bargain agreement reached through the Public Prosecution Office with the Federal Police and the Justice.
When the offer was made to the ex-director, he answered stating that he would not speak in either case. The session therefore remained open.
The members of the committee are now expected to resort to the Federal Supreme Court (STF) in an attempt to ask for the release of the former director’s previous testimony, as the allegations implicate congressmen, who hold rights of privileged jurisdiction. The meeting with STF Minister Teori Zavaski is scheduled for next Tuesday, September 21.
The access to the testimony given by Costa in its transcribed form is what the CPMI members believe will enable investigations to advance. “Learning what he disclosed is the only way to resume investigations at Congress. If this information is not made known to the Public Prosecution Office and the Supreme Court, this CPMI is dead,” claimed deputy Fernando Francischini, a member of the committee.
For this reason, Brazil’s Inspector General Jorge Hage requested from the Public Prosecution Office the disclosure of the testimonies given by the former director, who named politicians who reportedly received money from contracts signed by the oil company and suppliers.
According to the Inspector General’s Office (CGU), “should the allegations made in the media be confirmed,” Costa’s testimonies could help the investigations.
Former director Paulo Roberto Costa is suspected of taking part in a money embezzlement scheme in Petrobras’s purchase of the Pasadena refinery, in Texas. The operation was carried out in 2006 and cost US$ 1.25 billion.
He is also being investigated as part of Operation Car Wash, launched by the Federal Police in an effort to combat money laundering and embezzlement transactions totaling over US$4 billion.
In this police operation, Costa and currency broker Alberto Youssef are being accused of having embezzled public resources during the construction of Petrobras’s Abreu e Lima refinery, in the state of Pernambuco.