By Alex Rodrigues
Image Attribute: Brazilian Police Car / Creative Commons
On January 13, 2016, The federal police launched Operation Cui Bono to investigate an alleged fraud scheme in the release of credits at the state-owned bank Caixa Econômica Federal from 2011 to 2013. Seven search and seizure warrants are being executed in São Paulo, Distrito Federal, Bahia, and Paraná.
According to the Federal Police, during that period, the alleged scheme had the participation of the then VP Legal Entity Controller of Caixa Econômica Federal, the VP Bank asset management and a civil servant of the institution whose position has not been released yet, in addition to businessmen and managers of companies involved with refrigerators industry, concession of highway administration, real estate projects and a financial market operator.
From March 2011 to December 2013, the position of VP Legal Entity Controller of the institution was occupied by politician Geddel Vieira Lima (member of the Brazilian Democratic Movement Party). National Integration minister between 2007 and 2010, during Lula's second Lula administration, Vieira Lima returned to government in May 2016 as minister of government under President Michel Temer's administration.
The politician resigned in November last year, suspected of having acted to benefit a construction company in Bahia, where he made his political career. Motivated by the complaint, the Public Ethics Commission housed under the Presidency has decided to investigate the former minister for ethical misconduct.
The operation dubbed Cui Bono—a Latin expression that means "whom does it benefit?"—is a spinoff from Operation Catilinárias, launched in December 2015, under Operation Car Wash, when federal police officers found a cell phone in the residence of the then lower house speaker, former federal deputy Eduardo Cunha, which revealed a long electronic conversation between Cunha and Geddel. The operation aimed to prevent important evidence from being destroyed by those investigated under Car Wash.
According to the Federal Police, the messages found in the phone seized at Cunha's house indicated that the investigated were benefiting large companies to obtain credits released by Caixa Econômica Federal, which may indicate crimes of corruption, conspiracy, and money laundering. As some of the suspects had the jurisdictional prerogative, the investigation was initially conducted by the Supreme Court. After the main suspects resigned from public offices, the court sent the case to the Federal Court in Distrito Federal.
Agência Brasil reporters could not contact the former minister, nor Eduardo Cunha's lawyers. In a statement, the state-led bank reported that it keeps regular contact with the authorities, in unrestricted collaboration with the investigations.
Translated by Amarílis Anchieta Edited by: María Claudia / Nira Foster
(c) 2017 Empresa Brasil de Comunicação S/A - EBC / Creative Commons Atribuição 3.0 Brasil