Tue, Jun 11, 2019 - Page 7 News List

Leak casts shadow over Brazil’s ‘Car Wash’ probe


Brazilian Minister of Justice Sergio Moro denied wrongdoing during his tenure as a judge in charge of Brazil’s largest corruption investigation after messages allegedly exchanged between members of the probe, known as Operation Car Wash, were published on Sunday.

The messages released by the Intercept Web site supposedly show Moro sharing information and giving advice to prosecutors working in the case that resulted in the conviction of former Brazilian president Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva for corruption and money laundering.

They also show efforts to stop Da Silva from giving an interview days before the October last year presidential election, for fear that he could boost chances of his Workers’ Party candidate.

The Intercept said an anonymous source sent it weeks ago an archive with a “sheer amount of information,” including audios and videos, which it is still analyzing and would continue to report on.

It published the story before seeking comment from the parts involved as it feared “restraint orders” that could stop the publication, it said.

In a statement, Moro said the messages were taken out of context and do not reveal any anomaly in his actions as a judge.

In a separate statement, Car Wash prosecutors said they were victim of “a criminal action perpetrated by a hacker” and that they are available to provide clarifications.

For the past five years, the probe unveiled a massive scheme of kickbacks involving the nation’s largest builders and politicians in contracts with state-owned companies.

Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro rode a popular wave of disgust with corruption to victory last year while his most popular adversary was in jail.

The report came at a sensitive moment for the president, who is trying to muster political support to approve a controversial overhaul of the pension system in Brazilian Congress.

Analysts at Brasilia-based consultancy Arko Advice said the reports are likely to have ample political and legal repercussions, including a possible attempt by lawmakers to create a congressional inquiry committee, court cases seeking the annulment of Car Wash sentences and an eventual delay in Congress’ pension reform debate.

“More leaking can happen, further complicating the situation,” they wrote.

The leaked messages immediately prompted reactions from Da Silva’s lawyer and members of his Workers’ Party, as well as calls for Moro to resign.

“Nobody can doubt that the cases against former President Lula are tarnished by the most serious violations of fundamental rights,” Da Silva’s lawyer, Cristiano Zanin Martins, said.”

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