US-trained former judge Sergio Moro becomes defendant in lawsuit that asks for him to pay for damage to the country caused by the joint US-Brazil anticorruption operation Lava Jato, which he led.
Monica Bergamo in Folha de S.Paulo reports that disgraced former judge Sergio Moro has become a defendant in a lawsuit by Workers Party members of congress, who demand that he be sentenced to reimburse public coffers for damages caused to Petrobras and the Brazilian economy through his actions as the head of Operation Lava Jato.
The PT congresspeople did not stipulate the amount of compensation to be paid in case of conviction.
The lawsuit was filed on the 27th at the 2nd Federal Civil Court of Brasília, and is an initiative of PT federal deputies Rui Falcão, Erika Kokay, Natália Bonavides, José Guimarães and Paulo Pimenta. In the action, signed by lawyers Marco Aurélio de Carvalho, Fabiano Silva dos Santos and Marco Antônio Riechel Mann Jr., from the Prerogativas group, the parliamentarians claim that “former judge Sergio Moro manipulated the largest Brazilian company, Petrobras, as a mere instrument to cover their personal interests“.
“The disturbance at Petrobras affected the entire Brazilian production and mercantile chain, especially the oil and gas sector.”
One time Times magazine person of the year, Moro, who was until recently intending to run for president, is already facing multiple legal cases ranging from judicial bias to electoral fraud. He responded to news of the lawsuit, claiming “the popular action proposed by PT members against me is laughable. Once cited, I will defend myself. The judge’s decision to cite me does not involve any value judgment on the action. The world knows that what harms the economy is corruption and not fighting it. The inversion of values is complete. In 2022, the PT wants, as Geraldo Alckmin said, not only to return to the crime scene, but also to blame those who opposed the PT-era corruption schemes”.
Moro also claimed that the lawsuit was “a harbinger of the persecution they will carry out if they win the election, establishing an authoritarian and corrupt regime”, “There are times when you don’t know if the PT is a political party or a group of comedians,” the alleged US-asset continued.
Lawyer Marco Aurélio de Carvalho attested that the case was not revanchist, and that Moro would receive a fair trial: “We, from Prerogativas, propose that he be guaranteed the presumption of innocence, due process of law and the full exercise of defense – principles vilified by Lava Jato.”
“Moro is one of those mainly responsible for the luminous trail of destruction and misery that Lavajatism left in the country. There were almost 5 million unemployed and approximately 200 billion reais of damages to our economy.”
“He will have the right to the presumption of innocence and the free and sacred exercise of the right of defense, principles that he has never respected in his professional life. Now as a defendant, he will have the opportunity to reflect on the harm he has caused to the country.” Aurélio insisted.
They allege that deviations from purpose, excesses and abuses committed by Lava Jato, mainly due to the ex-judge’s “impaired performance”, “resulted in losses and damages far superior to the public interest”, which produced “a scenario of economic disarray of very high social cost in our country”.
The five PT parliamentarians state in the lawsuit that, contrary to respect for legal limits and the obligation of impartiality, Moro’s conduct was “profoundly alien to the dictates imposed on judicial activity”.
The suit also alleges that contractors and large suppliers of equipment for the construction and oil and gas sectors were targeted in a completely atypical way by Moro: “The persecutory fury of the magistrate conducting the ‘Lava Jato’ atrophied the production chains of the oil and gas and civil construction sectors, reducing them to a tiny fraction of what previously existed”, say the PT representatives.
The once internationally lauded joint US-Brasil anticorruption operation Lava Jato recovered only an estimated R$19.1 billion reais through its asset seizures, prosecutions and fines, leaving the country with a net loss of R$123.5 billion reais, or $24.6 billion US dollars.
To support the accusations, the group cites surveys carried out by different entities, including one mentioned by Minister Ricardo Lewandowski, of the Federal Supreme Court, during the 2021 judgment which annulled the conviction imposed on Lula in the so called Guarujá triplex case.
Referring to a study by Professor Rosa Maria Marques, from PUC in São Paulo, Lewandowski told the court that “it is estimated that Lava Jato took about R$ 142.6 billion from the Brazilian economy. The operation produced at least three times more economic damage than what she believes was diverted with corruption. This is on top of the millions of unemployment this operation has caused.”
Moro had also attempted to prevent Dilma Rousseff’s 2014 re-election, and immediately afterward, economic damage he wrought through operation Lava Jato was used to justify her impeachment. He then, working in covert collusion with US agents, went on to jail former president Lula, on now annulled charges, when he was leading the race for the 2018 presidency.
Lula’s enforced absence opened the way for Jair Bolsonaro, who rewarded Moro with the Ministry of Justice.