Brazil’s Supreme Federal Court (STF) ruled on Thursday morning for the suspension of Senator Aécio Neves (PSDB-MG) and Representative Rodrigo Rocha Loures (PMDB-PR). Both politicians asked on tape for hefty bribes later laundered through corruption schemes. Neves, the runner-up candidate in the 2014 presidential elections, wanted bribes to the tune of 2 million BRL.
The tapes come from brothers Joesley and Wesley Batista – owners of the world’s leading meat company, JBS. Facing a world-famous scandal for corrupting their meat to jack up their prices, the brothers now have more than enough incentive to sign a plea deal. With the help of the federal police, the brothers secretly taped a 40-minute meeting on March 7 with prominent politicians. One of those politicians was Brazil’s own President Temer.
In fact, Brazil’s Prosecutor-General Rodrigo Janot had asked the Supreme Court to arrest Aécio Neves. However, Justice Edson Fachin, who oversees Operation Car Wash, denied the request. For now, that is.
The Federal Police are carrying out search warrants in Aécio Neves’ apartments in Rio de Janeiro and Belo Horizonte, as well as in his Senate cabinet.
Now, the brothers have signed a plea deal turning these tapes over to the investigation. In addition to Neves, Rocha Loures got his hands on 500,000 BRL to ensure ex-House Speaker Eduardo Cunha’s silence. The police are also investigating the cabinet of Senator Zezé Perrella – who owned a helicopter found in 2013 with half a ton of cocaine.
But Neves is undoubtedly the focus of the operation. His sister, Andrea Neves, faces jail time for her role in the corruption scheme.
Little-known to the public, Andrea Neves is a central character in her brother’s political life. She managed all of his political campaigns and acted as his de facto Chief of Staff during his tenure as Governor of Minas Gerais (2003-2010).
Neves headed the relationship of her brother’s administration and the press. She is credited with crafting his image as an efficient manager. At the time, the local press repeatedly accused her of trying to gag newspapers. According to reports, she retaliated against journalists who published unflattering information about her brother.
Now, that will clearly prove more difficult.