In Brazil, lobbyist confirms payment of bribes to lower house speaker

In a testimony given to the Ethics Council, Fernando Soares said the

Published in 26/04/2016 - 20:09 By Luciano Nascimento reports from Agência Brasil - Brasília

Brasília - Conselho de Ética da Câmara decide que reunião para depoimento de Fernando Soares, conhecido como Fernando Baiano, seria sem imagem (Fabio Rodrigues Pozzebom/Agência Brasil)

Meeting of the Ethics Council of the Chamber of Deputies has not allowed images to be captured when Fernando Soares gave his testimony  Fabio Rodrigues Pozzebom/Agência Brasil

In a testimony given to the Ethics Council of the Chamber of Deputies, lobbyist Fernando Soares, also known as Fernando Baiano, confirmed that money has been embezzled to Lower House Speaker Eduardo Cunha from the corruption scheme in the state-led company Petrobras. He said the payments were made in cash and that the transfers occurred in 2011 and 2012.

Soares explained that in 2011, businessman Júlio Camargo (representative from Camargo Correa constructing company) negotiated with Eduardo Cunha in Rio de Janeiro, to "pay $5 million to him. I personally delivered $1,135 million to Cunha," he told to the council's deputies.

Bribes of $15 million

Targeted by Operation Car Wash, as a resource provider for the Brazilian Democratic Movement Party (PMDB) in the kickback payment scheme in transactions involving Petrobras, Soares confirmed to the deputies the information collected by the plea bargains of currency dealer Alberto Youssef and executive Júlio Camargo. Camargo disclosed the information that Cunha demanded a payment to Fernando Soares for late bribes, which were worth $15 million, paid to secure two drillship contracts for shipbuilder Samsung Heavy Industries, represented in Brazil by Camargo. Soares said he had no knowledge about the money embezzled to the deputy to offshore accounts and declared that the amounts were delivered by currency dealer Alberto Youssef who then gave them to Cunha. "Altair, an employee of Cunha's office in Rio de Janeiro, was the one who received the bribes," he added.

Soares reported that he met Cunha in 2009, and at that moment, the deputy offered to help him collect a debt of $16 million with Júlio Camargo through drillship contracts with Petrobras. "I signaled that if he helped me collect this debt, I could help his [election] campaign," said the lobbyist.

Swiss accounts

Cunha denies the allegations and his lawyer challenged Fernando Soares' statements on the payment of bribes, claiming that the charges have no connection to the case being discussed by the Ethics Council, which probed whether Lower House Speaker Eduardo Cunha violated the Code of Ethics and Conducts of the Chamber of Deputies when he denied to have bank accounts abroad. Documents sent by the Office of the Attorney-General of Switzerland to Brazil revealed monies found in Swiss bank accounts that are believed to belong to Cunha, but he denies being the owner of the accounts, which, according to him, are run by trusts, and he would be the "beneficial owner" of the assets held abroad.

For Deputy Julio Delgado, member of the Brazilian Socialist Party (PSB), Fernando Soares' testimony produces evidence that Cunha lied at the Congressional Committee of Investigation on Petrobras when he said that Soares had never been to his house. Delgado also criticized the strategy of Cunha's defense to stick to a closed subject of investigation, which is the bank accounts in Switzerland, and thus dismiss complaints about his involvement in the bribery scheme probed by Operation Car Wash. "Eduardo Cunha is the Car Wash champion. He is involved in the largest number of cases in Operation Car Wash," said the deputy.

Translated by Amarílis Anchieta

Fonte: In Brazil, lobbyist confirms payment of bribes to lower house speaker

Edition: Carolina Pimentel / Olga Bardawil

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