Lula da Silva trusted aides face overwhelming evidence of involvement in ‘active corruption’
The so called “trail of the century” in Brazil has already condemned 22 of the 37 culprits and on Wednesday is expected to peak when three former leaders of the ruling Workers’ Party are formally accused of having setup a network of bribes to ensure a majority in congress.
Brazil’s Supreme Tribunal trial took off last 2 August and has but pulverized all the defence attempts which tried to prove there was no such network of slush money to buy votes in Congress, despite the Workers Party of former president Lula da Silva has admitted to collecting (undeclared) money to finance its campaigns and those of other parties.
In the thirty hearings so far, most magistrates have considered proven that the corruption network made use of government funds, mainly from the Bank of Brazil and the Lower House of Congress.
According to the Supreme Tribunal those two organizations signed during the first mandate of Lula da Silva, from 2003 to 2005 contracts worth millions of dollars with publicity companies belonging to the group of Marco Valerio Fernandes, who would then funnel the funds to the Workers Party treasury as fake loans and other accounting cosmetics.
The magistrates have also proven that those funds not only helped illegally finance campaigns but also bribed at least ten members of congress from four different parties, which helped the administration of then President Lula da Silva to count with the necessary majority which he had been unable to accomplish in the 2002 elections.
The beneficiaries of the bribes were identified as the leaders of the Progressive Party, PP; the Brazilian Labour Party, PTB; the Brazilian Democratic Movement, PMDB; and the Liberal Party, which disappeared in 2006 but has since become the Party of the Republic.
Leading magistrate Joaquim Barbosa has underlined that those bribed were always the heads of the congressional groups or chairmen of the parties involved, who would then influence directly their lawmakers at voting time.
The four parties were part of the ruling coalition which supported the government of President Lula da Silva and since January 2011, the coalition of Dilma Rousseff .But according to the Supreme Tribunal the backing was not done based on government programs or political coincidences but merely motivated by corruption.
“There was clearly a criminal network to collect government and private funds” which “corrupted lawmakers and parties as part of a project of political continuity idealized by a hardcore political group” which simply led to a “progressive perpetuation of crimes in maddening numbers”, said chief magistrate Carlo Ayres Britto.
Since it is proven that the network fed on government monies and the existence of a bribes web in Congress, at the following hearings the tribunal will try to identify the corruptors, indicated court sources.
According to the Brazilian National Prosecution the political hardcore that was responsible for the whole web of crimes had as its ‘main chief’, Jose Dirceu, at the time cabinet chief and considered the ‘strong man’ of the Lula da Silva administration.
Dirceu has not said a word since the beginning of the trial but all along the last seven years has argued that he is the ‘victim’ of a ‘fabrication’ from the Brazilian elite that never accepted the fact that Lula da Silva and the Workers Party finally made it to office.
However the National General Prosecutor Roberto Gurgel said that in the documents of the trial “there is a torrential quantity of evidence” against Dirceu, which according to his view clearly establishes that he was “the leader, mentor and gang supremo”.
Gurgel added that once proved the passive corruption in the case of bribed lawmakers, now “we must have those guilty of active corruption”, which is the main charge against Dirceu as well as against the former chairman of the Workers Party Jose Genoino and the former treasurer, Delubio Soares, among others.