The latest results of the Odebrecht plea deals reveal a bribery scheme for executives to “purchase” tax laws. Turns out the Brazilian construction group paid lawmakers to pass at least 12 provisory measures. In Brazilian law, these “MPs” are temporary measures that immediately become law once signed off on by the president. From there, Congress has to pass them within 120 days.
The MPs in question received signatures from former Workers Party presidents Lula and Dilma between 2005 and 2015. While lawmakers insist that their only “sin” was in illegal campaign funds, this latest confession reveals another tier of corruption.
To make things worse for our sneaky politicians, the plea deals are now available to the public. The Supreme Court liberated hard drives to the press with dozens of hours of criminalizing statements from Odebrecht executives. Literally anyone can watch the testimonies since Brazilian newspapers immediately posted the videos on YouTube. Watch them here.
Odebrecht paid lawmakers to pass tax legislation that would ease their required contributions, ultimately saving them millions. For example, executives bribed lawmakers to pass the MP 613, which eliminated social security taxes (PIS and COFINS) specifically for the petrochemical industry.
The tax break benefited companies across the sector, but none more than the Odebrecht petrochemical branch, Braskem. Ex-president Dilma Rousseff signed off on that measure in September 2013. In return, Odebrecht execs paid $34.2 million to her re-election campaign the following year. For the law to pass in Congress, execs paid a total of $2.3 million split between Romero Jucá, Eunício Oliveira, Lúcio Vieira Lima, and Rodrigo Maia. And remember, this was only one of the twelve measures passed through corporate bribery.
Presidents in trouble
Among the 77 statements made by Odebrecht executives, one is particularly damaging to current President Michel Temer. Márcio Faria, former CEO of Odebrecht Industrial Engineering, said Temer took part in bribe negotiations. In that meeting, politicians set the bribe price at $12.8 million – 5 percent of an Odebrecht contract with Petrobras. Since Temer is currently serving office, the Prosecutor-General could not request an investigation into his participation.
However, the secret account created by the deal served to “the demands of former president Lula”, a man without the same political immunity. According to Marcelo Odebrecht, the company set aside the money for Lula since they “understood he would still have a tremendous influence over the Workers’ Party [and the Dilma Rousseff government“.
And it’s not just the presidents whose names pop up across the plea deals. In fact, Odebrecht also states that “there is no elected politician in Brazil who didn’t benefit from illegal campaign funds”. Looks like it’s going to be a rough road ahead for Brazilian politics.