The STJ (Superior Court of Justice) unanimously accepted a complaint from the PGR (Attorney General’s Office) and opened criminal proceedings against the governor of Amazonas, Wilson Lima (PSC), turning him into a defendant.
The Special Court concluded on Monday (20) that the evidence that Lima committed crimes with money intended to fight the Covid-19 pandemic was sufficient. The collegiate, formed by 12 members, is composed of the most senior ministers of the STJ.
The deputy governor, Carlos Almeida (PTB), public servants and businessmen, under suspicion of diverting resources to the purchase of respirators for patients with Covid, will also respond to the process. Amazonas was one of the states with one of the worst cases during the pandemic.
The PGR piece includes charges for the crimes of illegal dismissal and targeting government hiring, embezzlement, criminal organization and embarrassment to investigations.
Lima is the second governor to be prosecuted at the STJ for irregularities in the administration of funds to fight the pandemic. In February, the court accepted a complaint against former Rio de Janeiro governor Wilson Witzel, also of the PSC.
In a note on the decision, Lima stated that the accusations “have no foundation or concrete basis, as will be proved during the trial.”
“I never received any benefit as a result of the measures I took as governor. The indictment is fragile and does not present any evidence or indication that I committed any irregular act. Now, I will have the opportunity to present my defense and await, very calmly, my acquittal by the court. I have confidence in the court and the certainty that my innocence will be proven at the end of the process.”
Last year, the Amazonian governor got rid of an impeachment process in the state Legislative Assembly, with 12 votes in favor of the filing, while 6 voted against and 5 chose to abstain.
The deputy governor, in turn, spoke through lawyers Luciana Lóssio and Luiz Viana.
“The defense of the lieutenant governor reaffirms full confidence in the Judiciary and emphasizes that he will remain strong and determined to prove his innocence, as pointed out in the Federal Police report included in the process”, they say.
“Carlos Almeida Filho supported the investigations and collaborated with the Justice by providing clarifications and information, noting that he considers it unfair to include his name in the complaint made by the PGR. Maintaining the commitment established with society, Carlos Almeida Filho says he will not rest until he has the proven innocence and that the real culprits be punished.”
The investigation that targeted Lima began in 2020, after news that 28 respirators had been purchased by the government from an importing wine store.
Three police actions were carried out for searches and apprehensions authorized by Minister Francisco Falcão, rapporteur of the case at the STJ. The investigation gathered documents, testimonies and messages exchanged between the suspects.
The PGR filed two complaints with the STJ against the governor and the other defendants, pointing out irregularities that amount to approximately R$ 2.4 million misappropriated.
This Monday, the first of them was analyzed, in which the Prosecutor’s Office maintains that a criminal organization has installed itself in the bureaucratic structure of the state machine.
According to the report prepared by the PF, the PGR affirmed, there was a BRL 60.8 thousand surcharge per unit of respirator, resulting in a total surcharge of BRL 1.7 million, an amount 133.67% above the maximum price found in market research. As a result, the total loss to the treasury due to the operation was calculated at at least R$2.2 million.
Defending the opening of criminal proceedings, Assistant Attorney Lindôra Araújo, one of the main assistants of the Attorney General of the Republic, Augusto Aras, stated that “the elements collected in the case file appear to have sufficient weight to receive the initial accusation”.
“Under the command of the state governor, who condemned the actions of others involved in the context of confronting the Covid-19 pandemic”, she said, “a criminal organization was installed in the state of Amazonas, whose objective was to carry out fraud. in various bidding procedures and, thus, obtaining undue economic advantages for damage to the treasury”.
According to Lindôra, given the demand for respirators, public administrators and businessmen glimpsed the possibility of illicit gains at the expense of the public treasury.
“The denounced [incluído Lima] they created a criminal scheme to acquire the respirators in an overpriced way, without observing the rules of the bidding procedures”, he said.
Attorney Nabor Bulhões, a criminalist who works in defense of the governor of Amazonas, criticized the actions of the MPF, to which he attributed the “cruel and inadmissible tactics of excessive accusation”.
“The initiative of the Public Ministry in the case that is being dealt with is, with all the respects to the eminent assistant attorney, illegal and abusive,” he said. “I have rarely seen the Public Ministry act so incisively in what I would call the abusive use of the power of denunciation.”
“We are handling an investigation that involved the alleged irregular acquisition of 28 pulmonary ventilators and this investigation turns into a multiplicity of crimes. absolutely unthinkable in the species.”
Bulhões said that after the breaking of bank secrecy in Lima, any “economic and financial irregularity” was never found.
“Banking, tax, telephone and telematic confidentiality were broken [do governador]. There are no spurious links with the alleged members of the criminal organization, I had no contact with these people, I only had contacts with their direct advisors, with the Secretary of Health. I didn’t even know these other people who are being defined as members of an alleged and non-existent organization .”
Minister Falcão stated that, contrary to what Lima’s defense claims, there are indications of the effective participation of the head of the state Executive in monitoring the process that resulted in the overpriced purchase of respirators and the diversion of public resources.
Falcão said that he identified elements in the inquiry indicating that the Chief Executive outsourced negotiations for the purchase of hospital equipment to a businessman to fight the pandemic, alleging that this person would have a channel to carry out the acquisitions.
He stated that documents seized in the office reinforce the Attorney’s thesis that Lima accompanied each step of the acquisition of respirators, the respective processes of waiver of bidding and business proposals.
“I consider that the governor exercised the command of a criminal organization, which, engendered at the top of the Amazonas government, aimed at the practice of crimes of fraud and exemption from improper bidding”, said Falcão, receiving the ministerial complaint for the crime of a criminal organization.
The magistrate stated that there is just cause to consider that the governor of Amazonas committed the offenses of illegally waiving bidding and directing the hiring to a certain business group, the crime of embezzlement and embarrassment to investigations involving a criminal organization.