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Brazilian Federal Police Investigate PT's Marketing Guru

05/04/2015 - 11h18

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NATUZA NERY
FROM BRASÍLIA

MARIO CESAR CARVALHO
FROM SÃO PAULO

The biggest star in the marketing of Brazilian politics, journalist João Santana, has become the target of a Federal Police inquiry which is investigating the suspicion that two of his companies brought US$ 16 million into Brazil from Angola in 2012 in a money laundering operation to benefit the PT (Workers' Party).

The amount is equivalent to some R$ 33 million at the 2012 exchange rate. In that year, Santana, 62, worked in two victorious campaigns -that of the mayor of São Paulo, Fernando Haddad (PT), and of the president of Angola, José Eduardo dos Santos-.

The police suspect that funds from Angola were used to pay Santana through Brazilian contractors that work in Angola. That hypothesis says it was an indirect way that the PT used to pay its debts with Santana.

Santana was paid US$ 33 million for Haddad's campaign (US$ 11.7 million) - corrected for inflation - but he only received the biggest part of the money after the election.

The campaign ended with a debt of R$ 20 million (US$ 6.5) with Santana's company.

The debt was transferred to the PT's national board, which negotiated the payment to Santana: the amount was paid in 20 monthly installments of R$ 1 million (US$ 326,000).

Santana denies having participated in any irregular activity and says the suspicion of money laundering for the PT makes no sense. "It was a totally legal and transparent operation," he told Folha.

He helped elect former president Lula in 2006 and President Dilma Rousseff in the last two presidential elections.

*UNUSUAL OPERATION *

The investigation of Pólis, Santana's company, was opened by the Federal Police this year after the government agency that fights money laundering, Coaf (Council for Financial Activities Control) considered the operation that brought the US$ 16 million "unusual." The Federal Police was contacted but hadn't answered by the time this edition was closed.

Three financial specialists were interviewed by Folha -all agreed to answer under the condition that they remain anonymous- and said that the "internment" (sending funds from abroad to Brazil) isn't common, although it is legal, due to Brazil's high taxes and complicated bureaucracy involving operations of those who have businesses abroad. The operation is intermediated by Bradesco bank and declared to Brazil's Central Bank.

In the Angola operation, Santana says he had to pay R$ 6.29 million in taxes, the equivalent to 20% of the money that was sent to Brazil.

One of Santana's companies that sent the funds, Pólis Caribe, is located in the Dominican Republic, which, although not officially classified as a tax haven, allows the entry of funds without taxes or with very low taxes, some 5%.

The other company used to send funds from Angola to Brazil was Pólis Propaganda & Marketing.

Mayor Fernando Haddad and the former treasurer of the PT, João Vaccari Neto - who was heard before he was arrested on April 15, have already testified in the investigation, as they are suspected of receiving bribes from contractors hired by Petrobras during the Lula administration.

Haddad testified as a witness on Wednesday evening, April 29, after office hours. The Federal Police's Financial Crimes Repression Department is leading the investigation.

Santana is the Brazilian marketeer best known internationally and has worked in the market since 1999. He has conducted campaigns in Argentina, the Dominican Republic, Venezuela, Panama, El Salvador and Angola. In spite of his global curriculum, the operation to bring the US$ 16 million, which he received from the MPLA (People's Movement for the Liberation of Angola), was the first of the kind he has made.

Santana says the total cost of the campaign in Angola in 2012 reached US$ 20 million, of which some US$ 4 million were used to pay for operational expenses and tributes in Angola.

In collaboration with RANIER BRAGON, from Brasília

Translated by THOMAS MUELLO

Read the article in the original language

Marlene Bergamo - 10.out.2010/Folhapress
The biggest star in the marketing of Brazilian politics, journalist João Santana, has become the target of a Federal Police inquiry
The biggest star in the marketing of Brazilian politics, journalist João Santana, has become the target of a Federal Police inquiry

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