Former President Michel Temer and ex-Minister of Mines and Energy Wellington Moreira Franco—both arrested today (Mar. 21)—are being accused of having pocketed kickbacks related to construction works at the Angra 3 Nuclear Power Plant in Rio de Janeiro. The preventive arrests were requested by federal prosecutors and ordered by Judge Marcelo Bretas as part of operations Radioatividade, Pripyat, and Irmandade (Radioactivity, Pripyat, Brotherhood), spin-offs of Operation Car Wash into illicit payments to politicians during the construction of the plant.
Also ruled was the preventive arrests of João Baptista de Lima Filho, known as Colonel Lima, friend of the onetime president; the colonel’s wife, Maria Rita Fratezi; Admiral Othon Luiz Pinheiro da Silva, former Eletronuclear President; Pinheiro’s daughter Ana Cristina da Silva Toniolo; Carlos Alberto Costa; Carlos Alberto Costa Filho; Carlos Alberto Montenegro Gallo; and Vanderlei de Natale. The temporary imprisonment of Rodrigo Castro Alves Neves and Carlos Jorge Zimmermann was also ordered.
The investigation probes into crimes of corruption, embezzlement, and money laundering, possibly stemming from illicit payments ordered by executive José Antunes Sobrinho, of engineering company Engevix, to benefit a criminal organization allegedly led by Michel Temer, as well as funds possibly siphoned off from Eletronuclear directed to companies designated by the organization.
Federal prosecutors believe they have uncovered a sophisticated criminal scheme aimed at paying kickbacks as part of the selection of subcontractors Argeplan, AF Consult Ltd., and Engevix for the execution of contract for an engineering project at Angra 3.
Eletronuclear, the state-run company tasked with construction works at Brazilian power plants, subcontracted company AF Consult Ltd., which then associated with firms AF Consult do Brasil (with shares at Argeplan), and Engevix.
Prosecutors also believe that Colonel Lima requested from Sobrinho the payment of bribery, to the benefit of Michel Temer, of $287 thousand, paid late in 2014.
The amount is reported to have been paid by firm Alumi Publicidades to company PDA Projeto e Direção Arquitetônica, controlled by Colonel Lima, through the simulation of service contracts between each other. The executive who paid the kickbacks says he reported his doings to Colonel Lima and Moreira Franco.
Moreira Franco is charged with “interceding and influencing the selection” of companies subcontracted involved in the scheme. Also believed to have participated are Carlos Alberto Costa, Carlo Aberto Costa Filho, former Admiral Othon Luiz Pinheiro, Ana Cristina, Maria Rita Fratezi, and Carlos Alberto Gallo. They were partners of the companies used to obtain illicit benefits.