Brazilian Army: Why is the Lava Jato team burying evidence?

Brazilian Army: Why is the Lava Jato team burying evidence?


As the Brazilian and international media continues to treat prosecutor/judge Sergio Moro and his Lava Jato team is objective anti-corruption crusaders, despite a continued pattern of throwing out huge bodies of physical evidence against top politicians from the US-backed, conservative PSDB party, a growing body of proof suggests that they themselves are guilty of corruption.

As attempts are made to destroy the most  popular candidate for the 2018 presidential elections, Ex-President Lula, based on no physical evidence over reforms to a luxury apartment that they are unable to prove he ever owned or set foot in, it’s come out that Moro himself owns a 256m2 penthouse apartment while he is simultaneously and unethically collecting a generous government rent subsidy.

The brunt of the entire Lava Jato investigation is based on plea bargain arrangements from dozens of business executives involving deals allowing them to keep their offshore bank accounts. Furthermore, Odebrecht lawyer Tacla Duran recently accused the Lava Jato prosecution team of creating an industry selling sentence reductions to plea bargainers.

In this translated article, the Brazilian Army steps into the debate with an editorial on their own website based on a recent article by Tiago Herdy published in O Globo. Why, they ask, does the Lava Jato team seem to be destroying physical evidence in the case? Would this evidence, if produced, negate the need for all of these multimillion dollar plea bargain deals? Would the inclusion of real, physical evidence, limit prosecutors ability to  present themselves as heroes? In the apparent destruction of the encryption keys to a mountain of physical evidence from the Odebrecht construction company, who are they protecting?

The Mystery of the Lava Jato investigation

The great journalist Thiago Herdy published an article in O Globo on January 29th with important and scandalous content on the state of things in Brazil regarding a fact that has had little repercussion that is representative of the spirit of the times in which we are living. Called, “keys to opening the secrets of Odebrecht are lost” it deals with the fact that the Brazilian citizens will probably never know what is in one of the systems used by the Odebrecht operational structure to organize and distribute its bribes. The drama is further complicated when we are reminded that the delivery of data collected by a program called Mywebday is part of the lenience deal negotiated by the company. Six months ago, five hard drives with copies of the information and two pen drives which provide access to the  software arrived in the Federal Prosecutors office. Since then, nothing has happened. Neither the public prosecutors nor the federal police have been able to restore the content. It seems consistent only with ongoing efforts to bury the story and leave things the way that they are, and the suspicion that the work to break the program encryption was deliberately neglected. One example of the depth of incompetence in question: the Federal Public Prosecutors simply did not test the security keys at the moment the drives were delivered. Today, it is suspected – everything of course, under investigation – that the archives were erased and rewritten. What? Take a deep breath, reader, before you read the following declaration: “the system is encrypted and two of the security keys are lost. There is no way to recuperate them. We don’t even know if there will be. There has been no advance on this.”

Huh? What? How? It becomes especially confusing when the author of those words, which would be blasé if they were not irresponsible, is revealed: Carlos Fernando dos Santos, one of the coordinators of the Lava Jato investigation in Curitiba, whose tone, blatantly carefree with the public interest and inconsistent with his historically indignant statements, is not precise in expressing the model of action chosen by the task force prosecutors.

There are many doubts. They all come from the lack of transparency on the content of Mywebday. The Federal Prosecutors Office received the material – taken from a server in Switzerland – in August 2017. At the time, no one ever mentioned that it would be impossible to read. Since then, according to the story, the only access restriction – highly problematic – was of contractual origin: according to one of the clauses established in the deal with Odebrecht, only the prosecutors can analyze the data, in clear detriment to the Federal Police, who have the highest legal authority to investigate the case. Some news stories that came out between August and November of last year demonstrate the motives for the selectivity: the public prosecutors pushed for exclusivity – and here I have to laugh – to avoid that the documents would be leaked.

In a parallel manner, sources within the Federal Police have circulated its evaluation to the press that the Federal Public Prosecutors Office – in a sign of the institutional power struggle between the two institutions – asserted itself as the only department that should be able to guard the information because it wants a monopoly on it and because the company would run the risk  that themes not covered in its executives’ plea bargains could be investigated by the police. In September, in response to the request of Ex-President Lula’s defense team, Judge Sergio Moro determined that the system could be surveyed by the Federal Police – but also warned that the repercussions of this decision could spread disinformation.

It couldn’t be otherwise. The lack of clarity in respect to Mywebday leads to legitimate mistrust that what is obscure creates the conditions for the rise of fallacious narratives like those of the PT party – and offers elements for Lula’s defense team to accuse the Public Prosecutors office of treating the software as impenetrable to hide proof, in the documents, that would not sustain the words of the Odebrecht plea bargainers against the ex-president.

What is not controversial is that this episode – the disregard for the substance of the system – shows once again,  the distortion in the way that the Federal Public Prosecutors is using the tool of plea bargaining. This distortion of finality leads to some reflections. For example, if the public prosecutors had prioritized using the program, they may have found a set of information capable of turning  the plea bargaining deals (or a good part of them) made with nearly 80 Odebrecht executives irrelevant. If they had dedicated themselves to deciphering the system (or at least proving that it was impossible), who knows if the Brazilian State could have freed itself from offering so many plea bargain benefits to so many people. And who knows if the  plea bargain would stop being a crutch for incompetent investigators (and or those in love with the stage), transforming it to what it should be- a complimentary resource. In this case, it is likely that we would have had more proof and fewer heroes.

One final and urgent question: if the delivery of encrypted Mywebday content makes up part of the leniency deal with the company and if, after all, its reading is really impregnable, doesn’t this seriously compromise the contract signed between the company and the Brazilian government? Will they just leave it at this? There are a lot of fish in this sea.

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