The Federal Police indicted Senator Fernando Bezerra Coelho (MDB-AL), leader of the government of Jair Bolsonaro in the Senate, and his son, Deputy Fernando Coelho Filho, on suspicion of crimes of corruption, money laundering, criminal association, ideological falsehood and omission of accountability.
The case delegate claims in her final 300-page report to have found evidence that shows that father and son received R$ 10.4 million from the contractors OAS, Barbosa Mello, S/A Paulista and Constremac between 2012 and 2014.
The payments, says the PF, are undue advantages because they were “made in return for the execution of works linked to the Ministry of National Integration” during the government of Dilma Rousseff (PT), at the time commanded by the current leader of the government.
The senator held the post of minister between January 2011 and October 2013.
One of the works mentioned is the transposition of the São Francisco River, in which all companies acted as contractors.
The indictment is a result of the investigation opened by the PF based on the collaboration agreement of Pernambuco financial operators who acted in financing and also in the intermediation of transfers to the senator’s political group.
The PF came to them from the Turbulence operation, responsible for investigating the purchase of the plane that crashed in Santos (SP) in 2014, with the then presidential candidate Eduardo Campos (PSB).
The operators, headed by João Carlos Lyra and Eduardo Leite, signed an award-winning collaboration agreement with the Attorney General’s Office and detailed the financial structure that would have been used in the transfers.
“The receipt of such amounts occurred through an intricate scheme of illicit financial transactions, as well as the concealment of assets obtained through criminal means, with the credible purpose of integrating assets acquired in an unfair way”, states the PF.
In September 2019, to advance the investigation of the whistleblowers’ rapporteurs, Minister Luís Roberto Barroso, rapporteur of the inquiry, authorized a search and seizure of the senator’s addresses, including in his office. The action was called Operation Disintegration.
The material seized, testimonies collected and data on breaches of banking and telematic secrecy are used by delegate Andréa Pinho Albuquerque da Cunha to detail how the values of the contractors would have passed through the operators’ companies and reached people and firms linked to the current leader of the Bolsonaro government in the Senate.
According to the PF, the evidence gathered shows that the companies of the financial operators transferred amounts to a vehicle dealership, Bari Automóveis, in Petrolina (PE).
E-mails and messages via apps indicate that the senator was the one who “effectively exercised decision-making power” in the company on behalf of a family member.
The investigators also found transfers to companies linked to Bezerra’s political allies in Pernambuco and to service providers of father and son campaigns.
An e-mail exchange between Bezerra Coelho’s secretary and a member of the PSB directory, the senator’s party at the time, cited by the PF suggests that the contractor Barbosa Mello would have been responsible for paying the politician’s lawyers.
Regarding the senator’s relationship with the Bahian construction company OAS, the PF talks about “systematic payments” between 2012 and 2014 and cites the works of transposition of the São Francisco and the Sertão Channel as compensation for the payments.
In addition to information on whistleblowers and transactions mapped between the contractor and financial operators, the PF also cites spreadsheets from an OAS director with references to payments to the senator.
“OAS also paid part of the undue benefits through official donations to the candidates’ political campaigns or to their parties,” says the PF.
The PF appoints Iran Padilha Modesto, a former advisor to the senator, as its intermediary between financial operators and contractors.
In the final report, the delegate affirms that he was involved in “collection of revenue for the campaigns of members of the Coelho family” and in the “operationalization of the receipt of the bribe paid by the construction contractors”.
In addition to the indictment, the delegate asks in the report the blocking of R$ 20 million in assets of the senator and his son.
The amount was estimated as “the economic benefit they earned from the criminal practices” proven, according to the Federal Police.
The senator’s defense states that “the final report of Inquiry 4513 is nothing more than an isolated opinion of its subscriber, who even takes on attributions that do not even belong to him, without any binding legal force”.
According to lawyers André Callegari and Ariel Weber, the investigation “is another attempt to criminalize politics, like so many others that are now wide open and properly filed.”
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