During the 2018 election campaign, private Brazilian companies hired a marketing agency in Spain to blast out, through WhatsApp, mass political messages in favor of then-presidential candidate Jair Bolsonaro (PSL).
The information, which appears in recordings obtained by Folha, comes from the Spaniard Luis Novoa, owner of Enviawhatsapps. Novoa's company specializes in sending automatic messages to thousands of telephone numbers.
In the audios, he says that "Brazilian companies, butchers, car washers and factories" bought his software to send mass messages in favor of Bolsonaro.
In addition to obtaining the audio, Folha later confirmed details of the conversation.
According to Novoa, he did not know that his software was being used for political campaigns in Brazil and only became aware when WhatsApp banned accounts used his company, under the allegation of misuse.
WhatsApp confirmed to Folha that it had banned the company. "We did not comment specifically on accounts that were banned, but we sent a court notice to Enviawhatsapps."
There is no indication that Bolsonaro or his campaign team knew that the company was hired to send out messages in favor of the then-candidate. When sought, the Planalto Palace press office stated that it would not comment.
Donations from companies to electoral campaigns is prohibited in Brazil. Undeclared donations from natural persons are also illegal.
Translated by Kiratiana Freelon