During more than seven hours of testimony before the Brazilian Congress’s Ethics Council (Conselho de Ética e Decoro Parlamentar da Câmara), yesterday afternoon, deputy José Dirceu denied accusations by deputy Roberto Jefferson (PTB-Rio de Janeiro) that he was directly involved in the payment of monthly allowances (mensalão) to members of the PP and PL parties.
“I did not organize this. I am not the ringleader .I would never permit anyone to buy votes in Congress. It is just not true that I am responsible for the mensalão,” said Dirceu.
The PT House representative also denied favoring anyone in competitive bidding processes in state-run enterprises while he was the presidential Chief of Staff (Casa Civil da Presidência da República). He also denied having any knowledge of loans made by adman Marcos Valério to the PT.
Dirceu also announced that he will not resign from the Congress. He pointed out that even though the media and some members of Congress have been treating him as if he were already a defendant, there are no formal accusations against him.
Dirceu admitted that his party, the PT, had made errors, among them tax fraud, but he added that those who are guilty should be punished. However, he made it clear that he was not involved in what the party had done.
“I am responsible only for my acts as minister and deputy. I am not a member of the board of directors of the PT and cannot be held responsible for what they did. I did not participate in the decision-making process. I am not responsible for the PT’s financial obligations,” he declared.
Dirceu went on to say that he did not feel offended by President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva or the position of the Executive branch after he resigned as presidential Chief of Staff. He said the Lula administration is fighting corruption emphatically.
“This is a government that does not rob, does not permit anyone to rob, and combats corruption,” he declared.
Dirceu said he did not see the country embroiled in a gigantic crisis. “This is a political crisis based on accusations. Even so, the country has a government that is governing. It has innovative social programs,” he said.
The person who has accused Dirceu of being the mensalão ringleader, deputy Roberto Jefferson (PTB-RJ) sat in a front row seat at the hearing.
Later, speaking to the council, he declared that Dirceu lied when he denied everything. Using irony, Jefferson said Dirceu should “stop falsifying things and resign his position as professor in this school of lies.”
The Ethics Council redactor, deputy Jairo Carneiro (from Bahia state PFL party) summed it up when he said that with the blanket denial by José Dirceu “something was missing” in the attempt to verify the accusations.
“His testimony refutes everything. But nobody in their right mind believes he did not know anything at all about what was going on.”