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Former Petrobras Director Reveals: Bribe Made to Workers' Party Was Paid to Its Treasurer; Political Party Denies It

10/10/2014 - 09h09

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MARIO CESAR CARVALHO
FLÁVIO FERREIRA
ALEXANDRE ARAGÃO
FROM SÃO PAULO

SAMANTHA LIMA
FROM RIO

The former Petrobras director Paulo Roberto Costa and currency exchanger Alberto Youssef indicated during an inquiry by the Brazilian Court of Justice that the treasurer of the Worker's Party (PT), João Vaccari Neto, received money from works carried out at the state-run company.

"The connection was different with him", Costa said at the inquiry last Wednesday, October 8th, in Curitiba, state of Paraná.

Vaccari denied the statements and said that all donations made to the Workers' party are lawful.

According to the deponents, three political parties received kickbacks as part of the scheme: the Workers' Party (PT), The Brazilian Democratic Movement Party (PMDB) and Progressive Party (PP).

The currency exchanger said that the middle man at PMDB was lobbyist Fernando Soares and he himself took and it was also him who managed the bribe destined to PP.

According to Costa, the contractors involved in the scandal paid bribes because they feared being left at disadvantage over competition within the government. "During my time there, I don't recall any one company missing a payment. There were a number of late payments, but nobody ever gave up paying."

This was the first inquiry by Costa and Youssef after both made an agreement for whistleblowing to dodge 50 and 100 years of imprisonment, respectively. They had been arrested in March, accused for heading one of the biggest money laundering schemes in the country.

Costa said that the bribery at Petrobras reached the net value of 3% of all contracts by the company, which in turn involve high prices and can reach billions of reais.

The former director also said that, out of the 3%, 2% went to the Workers' Party and the remaining 1% was PP's. The latter political party was responsible for appointing Costa as the company's director in 2004. Costa stayed on until 2012 when he was fired by current President Dilma Rousseff, of the Workers' Party.

Costa said that the 3% was valid for contracts across the board at Petrobras. At the departments headed by those appointed by the Workers' Party - exploration and production, gas and energy and services, according to Costa - the whole 3% went directly to the party.

In his testimony, Youssef said that the agreements were made during meetings with politicians, alongside Costa, other executives from contractor companies and he himself.

Meetings would take place at hotels and at the politicians' homes. The currency exchanger also said that all agreements were recorded in the minutes.

The prosecution that both defendants are accused of Money laundering at Petrobras is not under secret of law, so their testimonies have been made available by the Court of Justice.

Both defendants, however, have been warned not to mention any politicians' names during their testimonies, because they have been awarded privileged jurisdiction.

The Workers' Party treasurer pointed out that he "has never spoken about electoral donations, or any other matters, with Alberto Youssef".

The president of the Workers' pArty, Rui Falcão, said on a press release that he finds it odd that "there so many testimony leaks have surfaced, especially when it comes to unfounded accusations". PMDB did not comment.

Contributions by NATUZA NERY, ANDRÉIA SADI and VALDO CRUZ

Translated by CRISTIANE COSTA LIMA

Read the article in the original language

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