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Former Minister Palocci, Strongman of Lula and Rousseff Governments, Arrested for Suspicion of Receiving Bribes from Odebrecht

09/26/2016 - 12h02

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MÔNICA BERGAMO
FOLHA COLUMNIST

BELA MEGALE
FROM BRASÍLIA

Former Presidential Chief of Staff and Finance Minister Antonio Palocci (PT) was temporarily detained on Monday morning in São Paulo (the 26th) as part of the 35th phase of the Lava Jato (Car Wash) Operation.

The newest phase of the operation, codenamed Omertà (Code of Silence), is investigating evidence of a criminal relationship between the former minister and construction company Odebrecht.

Federal Judge Sergio Moro ordered the blocking of Palocci's assets and of others accused of receiving as much as R$ 120 million (US$ 37 million) in bribes.

According to the magistrate, this is the amount detailed in a spreadsheet that supposedly records the amounts of bribes transferred to the former minister. The blocking order applies to the bank accounts and investments of those being investigated.

According to the Federal Police (PF), there is evidence that the former minister acted directly to obtain illicit benefits and funds. E-mails that reveal evidence of Palocci's participation in the crimes under investigation are among the evidence that the taskforce has obtained.

An employee from Palocci's office said that he had already warned his lawyer that federal police were on the premises to serve a warrant. The police also went to the former minister's house, although the locale of his arrest wasn't released by the PF.

As Folha has reported previously, Palocci was referred to inside of Odebrecht as the "Italian" and that this nickname shows up in payment spreadsheets that had been seized by the PF in previous phases.

Branislav Kontic, a former aide to Palocci when he was Presidential Chief of Staff, and Juscelino Dourado, his Chief of Staff when he was Finance Minister, also had warrants issued for their arrests. Kontic, also known as "Brani" continued working with the PT leader even after he had left his formal position.

Under the scope of the plea-bargain deal that the firm is negotiating with Federal Prosecutors and Police, executives from the company are providing detailed information regarding the relationship between Palocci and the group.

Palocci was Finance Minister in the early years of the Lula government from January 2003 to March 2006 until he was replaced by Guido Mantega.

He returned to the government in 2011 as a minister in the Dilma Government, this time as Presidential Chief of Staff. During 2010, he had been the coordinator of her presidential campaign.

Translated by LLOYD HARDER

Read the article in the original language

Danilo Verpa/Folhapress
Former Presidential Chief of Staff and Finance Minister Antonio Palocci (PT) was temporarily detained on Monday (the 26th) as part of the Lava Jato Operation
Former Presidential Chief of Staff and Finance Minister Antonio Palocci (PT) was temporarily detained on Monday (the 26th) as part of the Lava Jato Operation

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