By Lise Alves, Senior Contributing Reporter
RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – A former Odebrecht executive stated on Wednesday that the construction conglomerate donated R$23 million to a slush fund to be used in the 2014 gubernatorial campaign of Rio de Janeiro’s governor Luiz Fernando Pezão. The governor’s press secretary issued a statement denying the illegal contributions.
“The governor reaffirms that all donations were made in accordance with the electoral legislation,” read the statement sent out to local media on Wednesday afternoon.
According to the former executive, Benedicto Barbosa da Silva Júnior, in his second plea bargaining testimony that of the amount € 1 million was paid abroad and the rest, R$ 20 million, in Brazil. Silva Junior also said the illegal donation was done at the request of then governor Sergio Cabral.
The plea-bargaining agreement by the Odebrecht executive is part of an on-going investigation Cadeia Velha (Old Prison) and linked to the mega-corruption scandal known as Lava Jato (Carwash).
According to investigators former governor Sergio Cabral, convicted of money laundering and corruption and currently serving a fourteen-year sentence, asked for millions-worth of kickbacks and illegal donations from companies wanting to do business with the state.
The news of a possible slush fund benefiting Pezão’s 2014 gubernatorial campaign comes days after Federal Supreme Electoral Tribunal (TSE) President, Minister Luiz Fux acquitted the governor of the accusation of abuse of political and economic power.
The Public Prosecutor’s Office (MP) accused both Pezão and his vice-governor, Francisco Dornelles of increasing the wages of Rio de Janeiro’s public servants during the electoral period in 2014, to garner votes for their ticket.