The Brazilian franchise of The Intercept released the eleventh part of its “Vaso Jato” private message leaks Sunday. They feature comments from the head prosecutor of the Lavo Jato anti-corruption operation indicating that he believes that Flávio Bolsonaro is guilty of corrupt practices.
The messages are part of a series of ongoing revelations by The Intercept which shows the inner workings of Brazil’s largest anti-corruption probe. They seem to reveal unethical practices on the part of the prosecutors and the lead judge Sergio Moro – who would go on to become the present minister of justice under President Jair Bolsonaro.
In this latest release, Head Prosecutor Deltan Dallagno comments on accusations that President Bolsonaro’s son, Flávio, has been using his role as a state’s deputy to fill aides position with ghost employees in order to receive the majority of the roles salary himself. The accusations follow revelations by a government financial auditing service of irregular transactions between Flávio’s associate, Fabrício Queiroz, and the Bolsonaro family.
The scheme is common in Brazil and is often used by politicians to pad their pocket illegally. Elected politicians are usually entitled to a series of government employees. Instead of using the roles for their intent, politicians fill the positions with friends that do not show up and instead pay the majority of the salary to themselves.
According to The Intercept, in a Telegram group composed of Lava Jato Prosecutors on Dec. 8, 2018, Dalagnol posted a news story which reported on the deposit of R$24,000 ($6000) by Queiroz into an account in the name of first lady Michelle Bolsonaro. The story said that the government auditing agency, the COAF, labeled the transaction as “atypical.”
In the messages released by The Intercept, Dallagnol indicates that the revelations create a conflict for Minister Moro between his principle platform of rooting out government corruption, and the unlikelihood that President Bolsonaro would allow for his son to be targeted by anti-corruption investigations. Dallagnol asks the other prosecutors, “Now, how much will [President Bolsonaro] be willing to support Moro’s anticorruption objectives when his son becomes one of the targets?”
In a later message with another prosecutor, Dallagnol questions just how much it’s worth it to take sides on the topic of Flávio when they are dependent on Bolsonaro to make reforms.
Minister Moro, when asked to comment on the issue of Flávio and Queiroz, has done his best to wash his hands of the issue. He said that it is the role of the Federal Police to investigate the case. His critics say that he is attempting to avoid a messy situation with the president to secure a potential supreme court spot when it opens up.
The entire affair has cast a shadow on the Bolsonaro government and particularly Minister Moro and the Lava Jato anti-corruption probe. The fight against institutionalized corruption has been an essential part of Brazil’s development. But the apparent unethical behavior by authorities has given ammunition to critics of the effort to clean up Brazilian politics.