In testimony yesterday before the Ethics Council of the Brazilian Chamber of Deputies, the president of the PTB party, Roberto Jefferson, declared that the PT (Lula’s Workers’ Party) gave him US$ 1.64 million (4 million reais) for 2004 election campaign expenses.
According to Jefferson, the money was given to him by Marcos Valério, an ad man. Jefferson said that Valério was one of the people who distributed the “monthly allowance” known as “mensalão” (big monthly) given to some members of congress.
“I received the money as a private citizen, not as president of the PTB. I have no wish to involve my party in this. I am testifying as the citizen, Roberto Jefferson,” declared the deputy.
According to deputy João Pizzolato, by confessing that he received the money Jefferson is admitting he committed a crime. “That is an electoral crime. Why didn’t he denounce this when it happened?” asked Pizzolato.
Deputy Gustavo Fruet, a member of the opposition PSDB, says that what Jefferson declared should be investigated.
“He told us how much money was involved, who was involved and gave us dates, as well. That is something we must look into. He is member of Congress with parliamentary immunity who is making accusations. He will have to prove what he is saying.”
Meanwhile, in São Paulo, the president of the PT, José Genoíno, met with the press and denied the accusations made by Jefferson. He promised to prove that the party did no wrong.
“We are going to defend ourselves in Congress and in court, if necessary. What Jefferson did was make the same accusations publicly for the third time. And he presented nothing new, no proof. This is not acceptable,” declared Genoíno.
The reason Jefferson testified before the Ethics Commission yesterday was because he was cited in a video tape as the leader of kickback scheme involving government contracts.
When the tape became public he went on the attack, accusing the PT of paying monthly allowances to members of the PP and PL, parties allied with the government, so they would vote with the government.
In his testimony yesterday, Jefferson declared that PL deputies Sandro Mabel, Bispo Rodrigues and Valdemar Costa Neto (the latter is president of the PL), and PP deputies Pedro Correa and José Janene, were all aware of the monthly allowance scheme. “They knew about it and distributed the money,” charged Jefferson.