Report implicates head of Lula’s Civil House in fraud in the purchase of respirators in Bahia, says website

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Rui Costa, Minister of the Civil House

Photo: WILTON JUNIOR / ESTADÃO / Estadão

The Federal Police (PF) revealed evidence that links the current Chief Minister of the Civil House, Rui Costa (PT), to possible irregularities in a R$48 million contract for the acquisition of respirators during the pandemic, when he held the position governor of Bahia. Rui Costa denies the accusations. The information was released by UOL.

According to investigations, Costa’s name appeared in a plea bargain made by the businesswoman responsible for the business, who returned R$10 million to the public coffers and presented bank statements indicating transfers to transaction intermediaries.

The contract in question was established with businesswoman Cristiana Prestes Taddeo, from Hempcare, who received R$48 million from the government, but did not deliver any respirators. In 2022, she signed a plea bargain agreement with the deputy attorney general of the Republic at the time, Lindôra Araújo. The collaboration was approved by the minister of the Superior Court of Justice (STJ), Og Fernandes, also in 2022.

Furthermore, the former governor was mentioned in a statement to the Federal Police by a former government secretary of Bahia, who stated that he had closed the deal on Costa’s orders.

What is contained in the statement

To receive benefits in his case, Taddeo reimbursed R$10 million to the public coffers and confessed to a series of irregularities in the business. She argued that the contract was written in a manner unfavorable to the government of Bahia, including advance payment, and also stated that the company did not have the necessary documentation for the operation. Furthermore, Taddeo claimed to have received privileged information to prepare its price proposal to the government.

In his statement, Taddeo informed investigators that hiring Hempcare was intermediated by a Bahian businessman who introduced himself as a close friend of Rui Costa and the then first lady, Aline Peixoto. According to her, this friend had requested the payment of commissions for the business, totaling R$11 million.

“I thought that the negotiations to conclude the contract with Consórcio Nordeste took place very quickly, but I understood that I was benefiting because I had agreed to pay significant commissions to government intermediaries”, he said in the statement.

The PF and the Federal Public Ministry are investigating whether the “commissions” mentioned could be bribes intended for public agents. In April 2022, a search and seizure operation was carried out to further investigate the case. One of the targets of this operation was Bruno Dauster, former secretary of the Civil House, and responsible for negotiations with the company. In a statement to the PF, Dauster stated that the negotiations had Costa’s approval.

Hempcare, a company founded to distribute cannabidiol-based medicines, had no qualifications or prior experience in importing respirators, as admitted by its owner.

How the deal would have been done

On April 5, 2020, the businesswoman received a call from the then secretary of the Civil House of the government of Bahia, Bruno Dauster, showing interest in purchasing Hempcare respirators.

According to Bruno Dauster’s statement to the PF, it was Rui Costa himself who provided Hempcare’s contact details, with instructions for him to negotiate with them to purchase the respirators.

The businesswoman reported that Dauster himself highlighted in the dialogues that “it depended on the authorization of Rui Costa dos Santos [governador do Estado da Bahia] to make decisions.”

The businesswoman reported to the PF that she received privileged information about the maximum amount that would be paid for the items. Thus, a contract was signed for the purchase of 300 devices, at a price of 28,900 dollars each (approximately R$ 145 thousand).

Payment was made before the respirators were delivered, which did not occur due to lack of availability on the part of the Chinese company responsible for supply. Taddeo had already paid commissions to the business intermediaries, he was unable to get his money back.

What Rui Costa says

As governor, Rui Costa was the one who ordered the investigation into the case – a fact that his defense highlights to deny his involvement in possible irregularities. In a statement, Costa stated that he never participated in conversations or negotiations “with any agent or intermediary on the issue of purchasing this or any other health equipment”.

According to Rui Costa, advance payment was a common and “current” market condition for purchasing respirators at the beginning of the pandemic.

Read the note in full:

“The former governor never dealt with any agent or intermediary on the issue of purchasing this or any other health equipment. During the pandemic, purchases made by states and municipalities in Brazil and around the world were made with advance payment. This was the prevailing condition at that time. Former governor Rui Costa wants the investigation to continue and for those responsible for embezzling public money to be duly punished and for there to be a court order to reimburse the public treasury.”

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The article is in Portuguese

Tags: Report implicates Lulas Civil House fraud purchase respirators Bahia website

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