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Petrobras Scandal: Odebrecht Says That Off-the-Books Contributions for Chancellor Serra Were Paid to Account in Switzerland

10/28/2016 - 15h09

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BELA MEGALE
FROM BRASÍLIA

Odebrecht provided two names to the Lava Jato (Car Wash) investigation as being those who carried out operations that transferred R$ 23 million (US$ 7.3 million) from the construction company to the 2010 presidential campaign of Jose Serra, today Brazilian Chancellor, in off-the-books transactions.

The company further confirmed that part of the money was transferred through a Swiss bank account.

The deal for the resources outside of Brazil, according to Odebrecht, was made with former federal congressman Ronaldo Cezar Coelho (formerly PSDB today PSD), who was a member of the political coordinating committee of Serra's campaign at the time.

The Brazilian off-the-books operation, according to the reports, was negotiated with another former federal congressman, Márcio Fortes (PSDB-RJ), who is close to Serra.

The transfers were mentioned by two Odebrecht executives during their negotiations regarding plea-bargain agreements with the Federal Prosecutor General (PGR) in Brasília, and the Lava Jato taskforce, in Curitiba.

One of them is Pedro Novis, who was president of the conglomerate from 2002 to 2009 and is currently a member of the board of holding company Odebrecht S.A.

The other is director Carlos Armando Paschoal, known as CAP, who worked with political contacts in São Paulo and in negotiations for donations to electoral campaigns.

Both are part of a group of 80 employees (executives and lower-level employees) who are negotiating plea bargains.

Folha published previously in August that executives from Odebrecht had revealed to the Lava Jato the payment of R$ 23 million (R$ 34.5 [US$ 10.8 million] adjusted for inflation) in off-the-books funds for Serra's campaign in 2010, which he lost to ex president Dilma Rousseff (PT).

This was the first time that the PSDB politician's name had been mentioned in the investigation into the scheme of kickbacks at Petrobras.

Odebrecht has promised to provide investigators with proof of the deposits made abroad and in Brazil in order to corroborate the reported facts.

According to information from the TSE (Supreme Electoral Tribunal), the construction company officially donated R$ 2.4 million (US$ 750,000 ) to the PSDB National Financial Committee for President of the Republic in 2010 (R$ 3.6 million [US$ 1.1 million] in inflation adjusted values).

The executives told prosecutors that the amount in off-the-books funds was arranged with the PSDB's national leadership, which afterwards distributed part of the R$ 23 million to other candidates.

According to Folha's investigations, the executives confirmed as well that the off-the-books funds weren't directly linked to any return considerations.

Pedro Novis and José Serra are long-time friends. The PSDB leader is referred to as "neighbor" in internal documents from the construction company since he had, in fact, been the executive's neighbor. Serra was also referred to as "bald guy" on some occasions.

Serra's name is one of those that appeared on the list of politicians found at the home of Benedicto Barbosa da Silva Júnior, known as BJ, the President of Odebrecht Infraestrutura, who was arrested during the 23rd phase of the Lava Jato Operation, referred to as Acarajé, in February of this year.

When asked to provide an explanation regarding the information given by Odebrecht to the Lava Jato, Serra said, by way of his aides, that "pronouncements won't be made regarding alleged leaks from alleged plea-bargains related to donations made by the party in his campaigns".

"And we reiterate that no irregularities were committed", they declared.

Odebrecht confirmed, through its press attache, that it would not respond regarding the reports.

In preliminary conversations between Odebrecht and Lava Jato investigators, many other politicians in addition to Serra were mentioned, among them president Michel Temer, former presidents Lula da Silva and Dilma Rousseff, as well as governors and congressman.

All of those cited have denied any involvement in irregularities.

Translated by LLOYD HARDER

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