This article was published by The McAlvany Intelligence Advisor on Monday, March 21, 2016:
Following last Sunday’s record-setting turnout of an estimated three million angry Brazilians demanding the ouster of Brazil’s President Dilma Rousseff, she began circling the wagons. On Tuesday she spoke with former president Liuz Inacio Lula da Silver (“Lula”), inviting him to become her chief of staff. Despite being arrested briefly earlier this month as the Operation Car Wash scandal investigation enters its final innings, he still remains popular with vast numbers of Brazilians. The “quid-pro-quo” conversation – he would help stall her impeachment proceedings in the legislature, while she would offer him immunity from the investigation – was made public thanks to police wiretaps and appeared on every TV station in the land on Wednesday.
This generated more calls for her ouster, to which she responded during Lula’s swearing-in ceremony on Thursday: “Current circumstances give me that magnificent chance of bringing to my government the biggest political leader in this country. Coup supporters won’t bring me to my knees.”
On Friday a Supreme Court justice issued an injunction preventing Lula from taking office, explaining that he could impede the ongoing investigation. Since eight of the 12 sitting justices on that court were appointed either by Rousseff or by Lula, it’s clear that the injunction is temporary – very temporary.
In the interim, however, it gives the chief investigator and prosecutor in Operation Car Wash, Sergio Moro, an opportunity to issue an arrest order for Lula before he disappears behind Brazil’s special legal protection provided for government ministers. At this writing that order hasn’t been issued, but it must be tempting to Moro. He’s the prosecutor who worked in the past to prosecute corruption at Brazil’s state bank Banestado in 2001, which led to jail sentences for nearly 100 bankers. He also was the driving force behind Operation Farol Da Colina where another 100 players in money laundering, tax evasion, and other schemes were jailed.
So far Moro has racked up an even more impressive record in Operation Car Wash, having investigated 232 individuals, indicting 179 of them, with 84 convicted so far.
The scandal has spread like a cancer across Brazil and around the globe, with at least four criminal enterprises involved in stiffing Brazil’s oil company Petrobras for more than $4 billion, along with 16 Brazilian companies.
Adding to Rousseff’s woes came plea-bargain testimony on Tuesday from Senator Delcidio do Amaral, a prominent member of Rousseff’s Workers Party (allied with Brazil’s Communist Party), that not only did Rousseff have knowledge of the bid-rigging and pay-to-play schemes that Moro has uncovered, but she also “worked with her inner circle” to suppress Moro’s investigation – all of which Rousseff has continually and vehemently denied.
In addition, another high-level official in Rousseff’s administration told prosecutors, in his plea-bargain attempts to receive a lesser sentence, that Rousseff “tried to meddle in the [Operation Car Wash] investigation by naming a superior court judge whom she allegedly deemed to be amenable to releasing two jailed government contractors.”
Another revelation last week came from testimony given by Amaral concerning Rousseff’s former chief of staff and her current Education Minister, Aloizio Mercadante. Amaral said that Mercadante offered him bribes to keep him from turning state’s evidence.
The most explosive revelation came from Amaral, who told investigators that Lula had tried to obstruct Moro’s investigation by ordering his staff to pay bribes to buy the silence of a key witness. Amaral said that he personally handed over stacks of Brazilian reals over lunch to a lawyer representing a former Petrobras executive.
In the same way that a whirlpool gathers speed as it gets closer to the bottom, Rousseff and Lula seem to be circling the drain ever faster. These last minute maneuverings and machinations and revelations provide evidence of the rapidly disintegrating regime of corruption fostered by them and now being brought to a close by the relentless and indefatigable prosecutor Sergio Moro.
The Wall Street Journal: Brazil Senator’s Plea Bargain Contains Accusations Against Rousseff
The Wall Street Journal: Brazil Judge’s Ruling on da Silva Appointment Deepens Government Uncertainty