By Jay Forte, Contributing Reporter
RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – The Second Panel of the Federal Supreme Court (STF) voted yesterday (Tuesday, June 19th) for the acquittal of Senator Gleisi Hoffmann (PT-PR) and her husband, the former Planning Minister Paulo Bernardo, for crimes of corruption and money laundering associated to the Lava Jato case.
Hoffman is senator from the PT (Workers Party) as well as the party’s president. The charges were that a criminal action transpired in which Hoffman was accused of receiving R$1 million for her Senate campaign in 2010.
According to the indictment, the value was diverted in the corruption scheme at Petrobras and negotiated through Paulo Bernardo and the businessman Ernesto Kluger Rodrigues, who is also a defendant.
In the complaint, the Attorney General’s Office (PGR) used testimony from Alberto Youssef and former Petrobras Supply Director Paulo Roberto Costa to support the charge.
The Lava Jato rapporteur Edson Fachin said there is a “safe” set of evidence to confirm receipt of at least one of Rodrigues’ payoffs, made available to Hoffmann’s Senate campaign in 2010.
According to Fachin, the statements of the three collaborators, Roberto Costa, Youssef and Antônio Carlos Pieruccini, who would have operationalized the transfer, show that the amount of R$1 million was passed on to the campaign.
“Although they have not converged on how the request for value was, the statements of the three employees are unison in the direction that the amount illegally collected from Petrobras was effectively made available to the defendant’s campaign,” Fachin said.
However the STF acquitted based on their understanding of differences in the statements of Youssef and Costa, and that there is insufficient evidence to prove that Paulo Bernardo requested the money.
It was the STF judges Dias Toffoli, Gilmar Mendes and Ricardo Lewandowski voted for the complete acquittal of Hoffmann and Paulo Bernardo, due to ‘lack of evidence’.
The Operação Lava Jato (Car Wash Operation) started in 2014 and the four years of investigations have led to the arrest of politicians, CEOs and executives from some of Brazil’s largest and most powerful companies.
During that time 187 plea-bargaining agreements were signed, which returned more than R$1.9 billion in bribes and illicit payoffs back to public coffers.