By Jay Forte, Contributing Reporter
RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – The candidate defeated in the race for the Presidency of Brazil from the PT (Workers’ Party) and ex-mayor of São Paulo, Fernando Haddad, became a defendant yesterday (November 19th) against charges of passive corruption and money laundering.
The São Paulo court has received the complaint from the Public Prosecutor’s Office, which accuses him of receiving R$2.6 million from UTC to pay off campaign debts. Haddad denies the allegations and says he will defend himself.
It is the first time that the PT politician has become a criminal defendant. For Haddad, the decision is “one more attempt to recycle Ricardo Pessoa’s already well-known and disbelieved demarcation.”
Ricardo Pessoa, head of construction firm UTC Engenharia, donated R$7.5 million to the PT’s 2014 Dilma Rousseff presidential campaign and became a center-piece of accusations of kickbacks from the Lava Jato (carwash) corruption scandal. Ultimately Rousseff was impeached in 2016 for financial mismanagement.
Pessoa also stated, in an affidavit, that he contributed to pay off debt in Haddad’s campaign to the city of São Paulo in 2012. At the time the PT candidate had won the election, and enjoyed the backing of popular ex-president Lula and his successor, then-incumbent president Dilma Rousseff.
“With the same testimony, on the same facts, of an informant whose narrative has already been dismissed by the STF, the Public Prosecutor has made […] a complaint of corruption and one of impropriety,” Haddad said.
According to the former mayor, the accusations are “without evidence, based only on the worn word of Ricardo Pessoa.” According to him, the businessman “had his interests contradicted” while he was in the City of São Paulo. “This is an abuse that will be brought to court,” said the note from the former mayor.
Earlier this year the credibility of Pessoa has been under scrutiny again. He was the first of the contractors arrested by Operation Lava Jato who agreed to collaborate with the investigations and became an informer four years ago.
Pessoa was sentenced to 18 years and eight months in prison for active corruption and other crimes, the contractor served most of the time under house arrest and today, thanks to the plea-deal, only needs to provide community services once a week at a Federal Justice registry. However, he has until next year to pay a fine of R$51 million.