‘LULA, ROUSS­EFF

Jailed ex-aide says money used to fi­nance elec­tions in South Amer­ica

New Straits Times - - World -

RIO DE JANEIRO

TOP aides to for­mer Brazil­ian pres­i­dents Luiz Ina­cio Lula da Silva and Dilma Rouss­eff say they fer­ried mil­lions of dol­lars in cash to fi­nance pres­i­den­tial elec­tion cam­paigns in Venezuela, El Sal­vador and Panama, ac­cord­ing to tes­ti­mony made pub­lic on Fri­day.

Joao San­tana, a for­mer trea­surer for the ex-pres­i­dents’ Work­ers Party, was known as the “maker of pres­i­dents” for his suc­cess as a cam­paign strate­gist.

He was jailed this year on cor­rup­tion charges in Brazil’s largest ever cor­rup­tion probe, known as Op­er­a­tion Car Wash.

He and his wife, Mon­ica Moura, are serv­ing eight-year sen­tences for their part in the scan­dal, in which bil­lions of dol­lars from the state oil com­pany, Petro­bras, were fun­nelled to busi­ness­men and politi­cians.

In video­taped tes­ti­mony re­leased on Fri­day by Brazil’s Supreme Court, Moura said in 2012, Ni­co­las Maduro, then vi­cepres­i­dent and now pres­i­dent of Venezuela, handed her suit­cases stuffed with US$10 mil­lion in cash to help the re-elec­tion cam­paign of his men­tor, Hugo Chavez, who won the elec­tion but died shortly there­after of cancer.

“Maduro paid me al­most weekly in his own of­fice and de­liv­ered the money him­self, some­times in the Mi­raflo­res palace” of the pres­i­dent, said Moura.

She said that on one day alone, Maduro handed her US$800,000 and pro­vided her with an ar­moured car for her own se­cu­rity that looked like it be­longed to “an Amer­i­can rock star”.

Moura said the money for Chavez’s cam­paign was laun­dered through a slush fund known as “Box 2” and that Brazil­ian con­struc­tion giants Ode­brecht and An­drade Gu­tier­rez — both at the heart of the Car Wash scan­dal — had con­trib­uted US$7

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