The Minister of the Environment, Ricardo Salles, told the Attorney General’s Office that he held a meeting in March to discuss the biggest seizure of wood in Brazil after a request by Minister Luiz Eduardo Ramos, then in charge of the Segov (Secretary of Government) and currently at the Civil House.
Salles also stated, without mentioning names, that “the staff of the Civil House” sent a congressman to the Ministry of the Environment to deal with the same issue. At the time, the Civil House was headed by Minister Walter Braga Netto, now in Defense.
The information was contained in a document sent by the minister to the PGR at the beginning of last month to explain his intervention in the matter.
A leaf sent questions to the Civil House, but there was no response until the publication of this report.
The material is part of the inquiry opened by Minister Carmen Lúcia, of the STF (Supreme Federal Court), to investigate Salles and the removed president of IBAMA, Eduardo Bim, accused by delegate Alexandre Saraiva, former head of the Federal Police in the Amazon, of making inspection difficult environmental.
Saraiva was responsible for Operation Handroanthus, which seized 226,763 m³ of wood, in logs allegedly illegally extracted, with an estimated value of R$ 129 million.
Through a note sent by the press office of the Ministry of the Environment, Salles stated that “the inquiry will demonstrate that there has not been and has never been any crime”.
The minister is already the target of an inquiry at the Supreme Court, under the reporting of minister Alexandre de Moraes. In this case, the suspicion of facilitating the illegal export of timber is investigated.
Salles’ justifications, sent to the PGR on May 3, were analyzed and considered insufficient to clarify the matter, which motivated the request to open an investigation.
The Prosecutor’s Office also informed the STF of the need to investigate suspicions of administrative law and obstruction to the investigation of a crime involving a criminal organization.
The minister of the Environment said that he had a “public spirit” and acted in a “transparent and institutional” way when dealing with the matter, whether in meetings held in Brasília or on trips made to Pará to get to know the situation up close.
Salles told PGR that the meetings and trips to the Amazon had the participation of representatives from the Ministry of Justice and the Federal Police. He narrated that the portfolio was sought in early March by senator Jorginho Melo (PL-SC) and federal deputy Caroline de Toni (PSL-SC), accompanied by businessmen from Santa Catarina who maintain logging in Pará.
Salles stated that he has no relationship or knowledge with the people present at the hearing.
The minister said that he heard from businessmen the complaint that their production had been held up for more than a hundred days by the operation undertaken by delegate Saraiva, without giving them the opportunity to defend themselves.
Later, Salles added, the ministry was prosecuted by senator Telmário Mota (Pros-RR) and by the then executive secretary of the Ministry of Justice, Tércio Takano, “both referred by the staff of the Civil House.”
On March 25, according to the explanations sent to the PGR, the meeting organized after the request made “in person” by Minister Luiz Eduardo Ramos, then at Segov, took place.
“It is important to highlight that not only the number two in the hierarchy of the Ministry of Justice, its executive secretary dr. Tércio Issami Takano, therefore hierarchical superior of the entire Federal Police”, he said.
“As also [estavam presentes] two chief delegates from the Federal Police itself, from the environmental and treasury areas, among which the one who accompanied the two trips from Pará, dr. Rubens Lopes da Silva.”
After this meeting, Salles pointed out, it was decided that a delegation made up of those present at the meeting would go to the Amazon to get a closer look at the situation narrated by businessmen who sought out the parliamentarians.
According to him, the objective was “to respond politically to the demand of the productive sector, which made it clear that it felt persecuted and disregarded” by delegate Saraiva.
Salles said the police officer undertook “a maledictory narrative that mirrors his mistaken view of the facts, in theory incurring the crimes of abuse of authority, slanderous denunciation and false communication of crime.”
The minister attached to the document sent to the PGR a copy of the interview granted to the leaf in which he stated that documents presented by businessmen “would enjoy a presumption of legality and, therefore, would still need to be examined in the records of the investigation”.
In the inquiry under the responsibility of Alexandre de Moraes, which deals with the suspicion of facilitating the illegal export of wood, the minister decided on Wednesday (3) that the PGR, if deemed necessary, could interrogate Salles. Moraes stated that the PF could also do it.
The decision was in response to a request from the Minister of the Environment.
The magistrate did not consult with the Attorney’s Office, which is usually done, before authorizing the searches and seizures that targeted Salles and other servers linked to the folder. The measurements were carried out on May 19th.