Brazil’s Caixa Econômica Federal (the state-run Mortgage and Savings Bank) reports that it has begun investigating the case of the violation of bank secrecy laws resulting in the publication by a newsmagazine of a customer’s bank account balance sheet.
Information on the bank account of Francenildo dos Santos Costa, a gardener-caretaker (caseiro) at a house rented by former aides to the former mayor of the city of Ribeirão Preto, state of São Paulo, Antonio Palocci (who is presently minister of Finance) appeared in "í‰poca," a weekly newsmagazine published by the Globo group.
Francenildo (he is known by his first name) got into the news last week when he declared that minister Antonio Palocci had visited the house where he worked "ten or twenty times." That contradicts Palocci who swears he never visited the house.
The house in question, in an upper class neighborhood in Brasília, was supposedly a center for the distribution of slush fund money and call girl activities. Besides saying that he saw Palocci at the house, Francenildo declared that he saw money being divided up by former aides to Palocci.
A balance sheet of Francenildo’s bank account was printed out at around 9:00 pm in the evening of March 16, exactly at the moment he was at the Federal Police headquarters in Brasília being enrolled in the Witness Protection Program.
According to Francenildo’s lawyer, he gave his ATM bank card to the police but did not give them his password or secret code. That points to an inside job at the Caixa Econômica, says the lawyer, who has filed a formal request for an investigation of the bank.
Meanwhile, a note from the Ministry of Finance reaffirms what minister Palocci has said before: that he never went to the house and that he does not drive in Brasília because he uses a chauffeured car.(Francenildo says Palocci always arrived at the house driving his own car).
Brazilian Minister of Justice, Márcio Thomaz Bastos, affirmed yesterday that the Federal Police will investigate the unauthorized disclosure of a bank account balance sheet (quebra de sigilo bancário).
The owner of the bank account, Francenildo Santos da Costa, a caretaker-gardener has made declarations contradicting testimony by minister of Finance, Antônio Palocci..
"I have already ordered the director general of the Federal Police, Paulo Lacerda, to open an investigation into the matter and it will be done," declared the Minister.
"This is a serious crime and nobody is above the law so the Federal Police will punish whoever is guilty in this case. Unfortunately, this is a serious crime that is common in Brazil. We have to make people respect the privacy of other people."
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