Political reform, Furnas and Political Party Financing in Brazil

AécioDuto

The norm up until now in Brazil is for companies to make political contributions, many of them in so-called second set of accounting books, illegal under the election law, either to parties or to political candidates directly. Thus, a tough rooted plant has been established that dominates Brazilian politics that has been fed and grown over decades. This tends to delay any movement that is made against such a system, because many people gain through it, to the detriment of the general well-being of the country. The politicians gain, who then place their chosen people in selected governmental or state company posts, and these people then work on their behalf, siphoning off funds and enabling favours.

The campaign to impeach the current President is in place to avoid any change to this established pattern. The Vice-President who is to take over should the move to impeach be successful has already alluded that the investigations into such political financing will be buried and suppressed.

Up until Dilma passed the recent law on political financing, every party was obliged to fund their campaigns by such irregular, under the table means. This was known and acknowledged, but accusations and investigations of such practises have been handled differently, depending on who the targets are. Opposition parties to the current government have been repeatedly accused and documented as having participated in such activities, but the Judiciary has not been seen to be even handed in who they investigate.

One such example of this syndrome is the Furnas List. This scheme for siphoning off funds from the state electricity company, Furnas, started in 1996 and was reinforced in 2003 when the then Governor of the state of Minas Gerais, Aécio Neves of the opposition PSDB party, asked the newly elected President Lula, for Dimas Toledo to be placed in Furnas in a position of trust and this was accepted, being the only such request he made.

Through false front consultancy companies, Dimas Toledo then siphoned off funds to candidates from various parties, but 68% of the total of about US$10 million went to the then governing PSDB. Despite this list being public since 2006, no-one on the list has been prosecuted for it, although a journalist and the person who published the list were imprisoned to try and suppress public knowledge of the scheme.

President Dilma turned off this tap of irregular funding to her leading opposition party and has since passed a law to limit private corporation funding of political parties and politicians, which is one of the reasons why the opposition is up in arms against her and her government, baying for impeachment.

Advertisements