Brazil’s Former Chief of Staff Has His Day Before Ethics Council

    A lot is going on in BrasÀ­lia, Brazil’s capital, at the moment. At least three Parliamentary Investigative Commissions are operating, along with an Ethics Council.

    One of the most awaited hearings will take place before the Ethics Council of the Chamber of Deputies this afternoon when José Dirceu (from São Paulo’s Workers Party) takes the stand.


    Dirceu was the powerful presidential Chief of Staff until he resigned under a storm of accusations by deputy Roberto Jefferson (PTB party of Rio de Janeiro state).


    In reality, the Ethics Council is investigating whether or not Jefferson should be charged with infringing congressional rules (“quebra de decoro”) after he accused Dirceu and other members of Congress of participating in a payoff scheme.


    According to Jefferson, who has not presented concrete proof of his charges, the PT was giving money (monthly allowances – “mensalão) to government allies so they would vote with the government. And it is one of the parties accused by Jefferson of receiving the mensalão, the PL, that has brought him before the council.


    President of PL Resigns


    The president of the Partido Liberal (PL), Valdemar da Costa Neto (from São Paulo), resigned his seat in the Chamber of Deputies yesterday after admitting that he received money from the PT that was not declared to the Election Board (Justiça Eleitoral).


    Costa Neto said the money was used only to pay 2002 campaign debts when the PL joined in an electoral alliance with the PT. He added that he was personally responsible for the irregular reception of the funds and that no other member of his party was involved.


    He blamed the PT for not giving him the documents necessary for him to declare the money to the Election Board or the IRS (Receita Federal).


    Costa Neto denied that the money he received was for a supposed monthly allowance “mensalão” that was paid to members of Congress. Roberto Jefferson (PTB-RJ) has accused Costa Neto of being a “distributor” of the mensalão in the Chamber of Deputies.


    Costa Neto said he never had any questions about the origin of the money he received. “We do not treat the activities of political party allies with suspicion, especially after a victorious election campaign,” he said. Costa Neto also promised to set things right with the IRS (Receita Federal).


    Plea Bargaining


    Lawyers working for Marcos Valério, the adman, accused of funneling money for the vote-buying scheme, have made a number of formal requests for their client.


    First, they report he is willing to engage in “plea bargaining” (“delação premiada”). Besides a reduced sentence for cooperating, the lawyers want his wife, Renilda Fernandes, to be given access to her bank account.


    Finally, they have requested a meeting between their client, Marcos Valério, and the government’s chief prosecutor.


    According to the lawyers, Valério, who is accused of operating a payoff scheme which funneled money to members of Congress so they would vote with the government, has more information and documents to assist the investigation.


    Agência Brasil

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