By Jay Forte, Contributing Reporter
RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – At a seminar held by the Brazilian Bar Association (OAB) in Rio de Janeiro, the new interim Minister of Transparency and Comptroller General of the Union, Wagner de Campos Rosário, said the country will be better after Operation Lava Jato (Car Wash), when it comes to fighting corruption.
“I think Brazil will be better. […] Lava Jato is a critical moment in which the problem of corruption is being exposed, not only through investigation, but in the testimony of those involved,” Minister Rosário said to the group on Wednesday, June 14th.
“Today we have an open reality, there is no excuse to say ‘I do not see, I do not understand’. This information will change the lives of Brazilians,” he added.
For Rosário, it is not possible to say that there is currently more corruption in Brazil than in the past, because in the past there were not as many technological tools to detect illicit acts as there are today.
“Today we have more means of detection, which gives us an idea that corruption is increasing. But when we could not detect it, we did not know how it happened. As we have large cases appearing, the understanding of the country’s population is greater,” Rosário said.
The Lava Jato case is the largest corruption scheme ever uncovered in Brazil, or possibly anywhere, and has found that billions of public money was funneled off into private bank accounts and political ‘contributions’.
However according to Rosário, the current structure of the Ministry of Transparency is below the what is necessary for a country of the size of Brazil. He cited the case of other smaller countries which have more staff dedicated to internal control.
“We have about 2,400 employees today, it’s a relatively small number. Spain, which is a country seven times smaller than ours, has 3,500 employees in the area of internal control,” said the minister, who is an army officer, graduated from the Agulhas Negras Academy, and is in the Office of the Comptroller General Union (CGU) since 2009.
One of the initiatives he highlights is the Selo Pró-Ética (Pro-Ethics Seal), a program to encourage companies to implement integrity programs. “This year, the registrations counted on about two hundred companies scattered throughout Brazil, who sent their programs of compliance for analysis by our team.”
Rosário took the position of Minister of Transparency on May 31st, after the abrupt announcement that President Michel Temer decided to change his Justice Minister, Osmar Serraglio. Serraglio who had been in the post since March, was to switch positions with the then Minister of Transparency, Torquato Jardim.
Serraglio’s period in the Justice Ministry was marked by controversies, including having his name mentioned in the Carne Fraca (Weak Flesh) investigations earlier this year involving JBS, Brazil’s meatpacking giant.
However Serraglio refused President Temer’s offer to nominate him as Transparency Minister, and is said to be going back to finish his mandate as a representative at the Chamber of Deputies.
The role for Serraglio now is also replacing Rodrigo Rocha Loures (PMDB-PR), who as a former special adviser to Temer but was caught by the Federal Police (PF) carrying a suitcase with R$500,000, reported as a payoff from businessman Joesley Batistas of JBS.