SAO PAULO (Reuters) – A senior adviser to Brazilian Agriculture Minister Tereza Cristina Dias is being investigated over his administration of a public contract 5 years in the past, in keeping with two folks acquainted with the matter and paperwork from an inner ministry probe seen by Reuters.
The Agriculture Ministry headquarters constructing is seen in Brasilia, Brazil July 12, 2019. REUTERS/Adriano Machado
In accordance with the paperwork and the sources, who spoke on situation of anonymity, Particular Adviser Francisco Basílio Freitas de Souza is beneath investigation for bid-rigging and misspending of public funds.
The confidential probe has triggered a legal investigation, in keeping with prosecutors. The probe comes because the ministry tries to show the web page on bribery scandals, with new President Jair Bolsonaro vowing zero tolerance for graft.
Souza, an official at authorities agriculture analysis company Embrapa since 1976, was in control of coordinating a challenge which concerned awarding a contract in 2014 to an IT agency to revamp procedures for the standard management of agricultural items on the ministry.
In October 2018, the ministry’s inner auditors opened a proper investigation into the profitable IT agency’s contract and alerted police and prosecutors to the probe, the paperwork present.
In December 2018, Souza was let go from the challenge, the federal government’s official gazette stated on the time, with out giving a purpose.
That very same month, he joined the transition crew for the incoming Bolsonaro authorities and a month later the president’s Chief of Employees Onyx Lorenzoni named him as particular adviser to the minister.
Lorenzoni’s press workplace declined to say if he knew of the probe on the time of Souza’s appointment.
The Agriculture Ministry stated in an announcement despatched to Reuters on Wednesday, “There isn’t any authorized obstacle to a civil servant focused in an administrative probe from taking a politically appointed function.”
It declined to make Dias or Souza accessible for remark and stated it was cooperating with authorities investigating the contract, which concerned a couple of civil servant. It additionally declined to reveal particulars of the interior investigation, including that the “cheap” period of such proceedings was 140 days.
Federal prosecutors had requested police to begin an investigation into the awarding of the contract, a media consultant for the prosecutors stated, declining to supply particulars. Federal police didn’t reply to a request for remark.
Dias is conscious of the continuing investigation, in keeping with the 2 folks acquainted with the matter. There isn’t any indication that she is implicated in any wrongdoing.
Souza’s public agenda reveals he is likely one of the minister’s busiest aides, becoming a member of her incessantly on home and overseas journeys, and representing the ministry in conferences with the World Financial institution and the Japan Worldwide Cooperation Company.
The Agriculture Ministry remains to be recovering from a 2017 scandal that noticed police current proof of a bribery scheme during which officers helped meatpackers to cheat on sanitary inspections.
The scandal led main overseas markets to ban meat imports from Brazil.
Within the inner probe involving Souza, which isn’t associated to the inspections scandal, investigators discovered proof he could have damaged bidding guidelines when the federal government signed a contract with out a competing bidder, overpaying by at the very least four million reais ($1.1 million), in keeping with the ministry paperwork.
Magna Sistemas Consultoria SA, the IT agency that gained the contract to bolster the Agriculture Ministry’s worldwide oversight and foodstuff high quality management protocols, has additionally labored for state oil agency Petroleo Brasileiro SA and different ministries.
Magna stated in an announcement it gained the challenge legally and fulfilled all its obligations by way of the top of the contract final 12 months. It stated the ministry had not formally inquired concerning the bidding course of till April 2019.
The agency stated it didn’t have information of any investigation ordered by the federal prosecutors.
Final 12 months, Souza was tapped to turn out to be vp for agriculture at state lender Banco do Brasil SA, native media have reported. Newspaper Valor Economico reported in January that he misplaced out on the job after failing a background examine.
Banco do Brasil stated in an announcement that its eligibility committee had not evaluated Souza. He declined to go forward with the method after receiving paperwork for the background examine, in keeping with an individual acquainted with the matter.
Reporting by Ana Mano; Extra reporting by Ricardo Brito in Brasília; Enhancing by Brad Haynes, Daniel Flynn, Steve Orlofsky and Rosalba O’Brien