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