Brazil’s Ex Finance Minister Charged with Money-Laundering and Conspiracy

Brazil’s former Finance Minister, Antônio Palocci, was indicted Thursday, April 27, for four crimes related to irregularities committed in urban sanitation contracts when he was mayor of Ribeirão Preto, in the interior of São Paulo state.

He will have to answer to charges of money-laundering, conspiracy, misappropriation, and misrepresentation. The investigations into the period of his mayoralty are being conducted by the São Paulo Civil Police.

Palocci is already on the hook in the Federal Police for four other crimes, which he allegedly committed in his term as minister: abuse of official privilege, violation of banking secrecy, prevarication, and calumnious assault.

The ex-minister testified for two and a half hours, in Brasí­lia, before the head of the Interstate Police Apprehension division, Antônio Admar Brandão, and police commissioner Amarildo Fernandes.

Before his testimony began, however, he had already been indicted. According to the prosecutor from the São Paulo Public Defense Ministry, Daniel José de Angelis, "the letter of mandamus included the order to indict."

The document, he said, enabled the police in Brasí­lia to take Palocci’s testimony, even though the investigation is being headed by the São Paulo police.

"We never bothered to investigate him, because he was a minister, and this was outside our jurisdiction. Now we will investigate. There is already evidence that he had a part. We are still uncertain whether the money was meant to go to the Workers’ Party," de Angelis commented, referring to the supposedly illegal contracts signed when Palocci was mayor of Ribeirão Preto.

When accosted by the press at the conclusion of his testimony, Palocci refused to comment, but his lawyer, José Batocchio, denied that the minister had been indicted.

"We must stick to the facts, not to the different versions," he admonished.

Batocchio also affirmed that Palocci "had no direct participation" in the signing of the contracts.

"The bidding process occurred in the previous administration, under a different mayor. The contract he received had already been approved and was in effect. All he did was to maintain it. He signed no contract or act of extension," the lawyer affirmed, referring to contract with the Leão Leão company, which was hired to collect garbage in the municipality of Ribeirão Preto.

Agência Brasil

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