By Lisa Flueckiger, Senior Contributing Reporter
RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – Both ex-President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva and current Speaker of the House of Representatives Eduardo Cunha are being investigated in two different inquiries of the Lava Jato (Carwash) corruption scandal. While a witness said Cunha had received a US$5 million bribe for a Petrobras contract to go through, Lula is being investigated for influence peddling in contracts for Odebrecht in Cuba and the Dominican Republic.
Júlio Camargo, an executive of oil and gas sector company Toyo Setal, the first company to cooperate in the Lava Jato investigation against Petrobras, claimed that Speaker of the House and fierce rival of President Dilma Rousseff, Eduardo Cunha of the PMDB party, requested a bribe of US$5 million in order for a drilling ship contract from Petrobras.
Camargo testified to have paid the bribe via central figure of the entire operation black-market money dealer Alberto Youssef, according to Agencia Brasil. The money was to be used in political campaigns and Youssef was triggered because the operation had to be done swiftly, and the money dealer had cash available.
The Toyo Setal executive also claimed that another US$5 million were paid through another operator, Fernando Soares known as the Bahian, who Camargo said was a secret partner of Cunha.
The money for the bribe allegedly came from companies Samsung and Mitsui. In his deposition, Youssef had already testified that Cunha was at the receiving end of all bribes from these two companies through an equipment rental contract with Petrobras. Executives from Samsung and Mitsui are set to make their statements in early August.
Cunha vehemently declined any accusations. “Anything in the version that is being given is a lie. It’s a false fact, because this whistle-blower [Camargo], if he’s lying, [and later] denies what he denounced, he will lose the right to testify,” Cunha told the press.
Cunha even continued to accuse Attorney General of the Republic, Rodrigo Janot, to have made Camargo lie, citing the fact that Janot’s mandate is about to end in September and he is in need of re-approval by the presidency.
In another branch of the Lava Jato investigation, federal prosecutors are looking into the involvement of ex-President of Brazil Lula in contracts Brazilian construction giant Odebrecht obtained in Cuba and the Dominican Republic between 2011 and 2014. The ex-President is investigated for influence peddling.
Lula was stated to have “obtained economic advantages from contractor Odebrecht, with the pretense to influence actions taken by foreign public officials, especially the governments of the Dominican Republic and Cuba (in this case, for works financed by the National Bank for Economic and Social Development, BNDES, and by Brazilian federal government agents).”
The Public Prosecutor responsible for the inquiry has requested documents from the Lava Jato investigation that is currently looking into Odebrecht’s involvement in the scandal, with regard to operations abroad that were financed by BNDES or had any relation to Lula. Also requested were bank statements in order to look into payments made to companies related to Lula, Agencia Brasil reported.
BNDES has denied any involvement of the ex-President. “The financing for exports of goods and services in engineering works abroad all follow impersonal criteria of normal analysis of the bank, with the participation of dozens of gazetted technicians and collective bodies, additional to the requirement of solid guarantees.”