By Lucy Jordan, Senior Contributing Reporter
BRASÍLIA, BRAZIL – It is expected that the first verdicts of the mensalão, a sprawling corruption trial involving some of the top figures in former-President Lula’s administration, will be announced Monday afternoon, August 20th, when the case resumes at the Supreme Court.
Prosecutors charge that public money was laundered through companies linked to advertising executive Marcos Valerio and paid to some coalition members to settle debts and ensure their support for the PT as a “mensalão,” or big monthly payment.
Globo reported that the trial has been broken up into seven groups, corresponding to the defendants’ alleged crimes. Judges will continue to vote this Monday on the first group, which involves four defendants: Congressman John Paul Cunha, businessman Marcos Valerio and two of his colleagues, Ramon Hollerbach and Cristiano Paz.
On Thursday, rapporteur Joaquim Barbosa was the first of the eleven supreme court judges to make a decision, and voted to convict Cunha of passive corruption (receiving undue advantage), embezzlement (appropriating public money) and money laundering, for actions committed while he was president of the Chamber of Deputies in 2003. He also voted found Valerio, Hollerbach and Paz guilty of for bribery and embezzlement.
According to the Federal Public Ministry, Cunha authorized subcontracting companies for SMP&B, Marcos Valerio’s firm, which had won bids to serve in the Chamber of Deputies. The agency’s work actually represented only R$17,000 of the nearly R$11 million in public money contracted out to them.
“João Paulo Cunha acted intentionally to insert third-party services, aware that the services were not rendered by Marcos Valerio. Such services were completely outside the advertising contract,” Barbosa said, according to Terra Brasil.
The judgment will resume on Monday the other judges’ votes, starting with Ricardo Lewandowski.
Read more (in Portuguese).
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