Radioactive Soccer Politics: Brazilian Ink on Berezovsky’s Tropical Trysts

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Dirceu on the cover of CartaCapital recently. “In the trial in the Supreme Court, the only thing firmly established so far is the unbridled and criminal use of political slush funds — an old habit that has never been punished.”

Zé Dirceu is the former minister of the Casa Civil who must now stand trial for allegedly doing dirty deals with Belo Horizonte Baldy (my nickname for the guy.)

Baldy is a Minas Gerais advertising executive accused of using his firms to launder dirty money — illegal undeclared campaign contributions as well as misappropriated public funds — into political slush funds, with the connivance of bank executives and using public-private partnership structures.

Baldy and his business partners face 733 criminal counts. Dirceu and three other prominent politicians of his party face 28 among them. They were not indicted on misusing public funds. And yet the case is framed as “the trial of Dirceu” rather than “the borking of Baldy.”

Which I find just weird.

Back home, for example, lawmakers were involved, and are being duly borked for it, but we still read about it as the Abramoff case. Which makes sense to me. The one with the most money passing through his hands gets the case named after him. Bork him, then roll up everyone he was doing dirty business with.


Dirceu is angry about an article that appeared this week in Veja magazine, linking him to the Brazilian portion of the global scandal over the curious career of Boris Berezovsky.

You know who I mean. Putin’s republic of spies versus the plutocratic mafia. Forbes Russia editor Paul Klebnikov may have been killed over his reporting on the man’s dealings.

A young reporter who worked for me — she had a background in general-interest reporting, which is one reason I hired her — once said she had decided to work in business journalism because it was safer and less stressful. Spreadsheets and numbers. Prices and deals. I reminded her of Paul Klebnikov.

Berezovsky’s involvement in a bailout by foreign investors — a firm called MSI — of our local football team, São Paulo’s Corinthians, is arguably the business scandal of the year down here.

Highlight so far, purely in terms of infotaintment scandal-power: leaked wiretaps in which a friend of a Corinthians player asks if the player’s girlfriend knows about the Swiss account. “About the Swiss account, yes, but …,” the player replies, implying he has other, girlfriend-proof accounts abroad.

Dirceu says on his blog today that Veja magazine is lying again.

Which, given that Veja does tend to out and out lie — it has been successfully sued for libel quite a few times in recent years — is plausible enough on the face of it, and deserves to be reality-tested.
CartaCapital magazine reports this week that the government was lobbied heavily to provide Berezovsky with asylum, but that the federal president refused to meet with the Russian plutocrat to discuss the matter. CC explains the legal dimensions of the case very well, I thought. As usual. Which is why I regularly buy it. You can actually learn things from reading it. It creates brain cells rather than destroying them.

CC also corroborates what Dirceu states here: That he was the subject of three months of court-ordered wiretaps and was never heard to discuss the Corinthians case.

Many rumors float around about Dirceu as lobbyist, such as that he was working for Carlos Slim’s bid to get his hands on the cellular operation that Telecom Italia is abandoning. But these rumors, invariably sourced anonymously, Miriam Leitão-style, never seem to pan out.

Will someone please do me up a report on who Dirceu does represent, and what he does for his clients? If you want to convince me the guy really is a Tupi Abramoff, that is. I mean, maybe he really is. So prove it. That is your freaking job.

A matéria “Ainda Chefe, mas de outra turma da pesada”, da revista Veja desta semana (só para assinantes) é totalmente mentirosa e vou processar mais uma vez a revista. Como já afirmei várias vezes, fui vítima de uma interceptação telefônica autorizada por um juiz federal, a pedido do Ministério Público, no caso MSI-Corinthians, e como na quebra de meu sigilo telefônico, bancário e fiscal pela CPI dos Correios, nada foi encontrado que me comprometesse com o caso MSI-Corinthians ou com qualquer questão relacionada a Boris Berezovsky. É fácil chegar à essa conclusão. A revista e toda a mídia tiveram acesso às gravações e não cita, na matéria desta semana, uma só que me envolva com o caso. Digo mais, a própria interceptação telefônica foi um abuso, já que nada nas gravações anteriores me ligavam ao caso. Mas, na prática, funcionou mais como um atestado de inocência para mim.

The article “Still boss, but now of another gang of heavy-hitters,” that ran in Veja magazine this week is totally mendacious, and I am going to sue the magazine once more.

Say it ain’t so, Dualib: The team my extended clan traditionally roots for, the local football equivalent of “dem bums” is the subject of a garish business scandal. Pressure mounts on me to switch my allegiance to Santos or the despised Palmeiras, but my wife insists I stand firm with
A Fiel.

As I have said many times before, I was the victim of a telephone wiretap authorized by a federal judge, at the request of prosecutors, in the MSI-Corinthians case. As occurred in the violation of my communications, banking and financial privacy by the congressional probe of the postal service, nothing was found to involve me in the MSI-Corinthians case or any other matter related to Boris Berezovsky. This conclusion is easy to reach. The magazine, like every other news organization, had access to the recordings, but does not cite, in its article this week, as single one of them that involves me in the case. What is more, I say the wiretap itself was abusive, given that none of the previous wiretaps involved me in the case. Still, the wiretaps effectively functioned as an attestation of innocence for me.

The prosecutor whom CC interviewed decribed a theory in which some of the people who did lobby on Berezovsky’s behalf mentioned other people who are known associates of Dirceu in some way or another.

Or something like that. I will try to characterize that less vaguely when I get a chance. But it may actually just be a vague conspiracy theory.

A matéria da revista Veja é totalmente mentirosa. Em todas as gravações não há nada que me envolva no caso. É mais um caso escandaloso de abuso da liberdade de imprensa que está se tornando uma norma da citada revista. Mais grave ainda é a tentativa permanente da revista Veja de criminalizar minhas atividades de consultor e advogado. A publicação de ligações telefônicas, protegidas pelo sigilo, já é grave no caso MSI-Corinthians. Mais grave ainda é a divulgação de gravações de minhas atividades profissionais que não têm nada de tráfico de influência ou advocacia administrativa, já que não envolvem o governo, nem eu sou mais ministro ou deputado, o mesmo valendo para meu interlocutor. Tanto eu como ele podemos legalmente e eticamente trabalhar para levar investimentos brasileiros a qualquer pais do mundo.

The Veja article is a total lie. In all the recordings there was nothing to involve me in the case. This is one more scandalous case of the abuse of press freedom that is becoming the stock in trade of this magazine.

Veja does seem to promulgate a theory of the “free marketplace of ideas” according to which, if people will pay to be lied to, then you should give the people what they want.

Media cartels who have wiped out their competition through “armed media monoply” methods always paint themselves as champions of the free market who have gotten where they are because they are simply the best at what they do.

It’s grotesque.

What is worse is Veja‘s ongoing attempt to criminalize my work as an attorney and consultant. The publication of sealed transcripts of telephone conversations in the MSI-Corinthians case is bad enough. Worse is the publication of recordings of my professional dealings that have nothing to do with lobbying the government or influence-peddling, and no longer involve the government, since I no longer hold office of any kind. And the same goes for the people I am talking to. Both and I he are legally and ethically entitled to work to bring Brazilian investments to any nation in the world.

I am not sure what transaction Dirceu is referring to.

The Brazilian bar association seems extremely anxious these days to protect lawyer-client privilege in wiretap cases. Which is, of course, its job: It lobbies for the professional interests of lawyers. So I would imagine Dirceu is playing to his peers in this respect. And to foreign investors as well.

How nervous would it make you to think that your competitors might enlist leaky police to ratfink you legitimately private business negotiations? As Daniel Dantas allegedly did, with the help of Harvard’s Mangabeira Unger?

Veja também omite, de propósito, que o deputado Vicente Cândido já desmentiu em carta a um jornal paulista qualquer participação minhas nas relações com Boris Berezovsky.

Veja also deliberately omits the fact that federal deputy Vicente Cândido, in a letter to a São Paulo newspaper, has already belied the notion that I had any dealings with Berezovsky.

When Veja reported that crooked federal police had allowed a defendant to intimidate a witness being held in federal custody, it deliberately omitted to mention a shift log from the jail purporting to show the meeting Veja “reported” on could not possibly have happened in the time frame it described.

So yes, Veja does seem to have a track record of suppressing evidence to the contrary if it fails to fit its gabbling confabulations.

A respeito de Hélio Madalena, advogado com quem mantenho relações profissionais, não há nada nas gravações relacionado à questão MSS-Corinthians ou a qualquer ilegalidade.

With respect to Hélio Madalena, a lawyer I have professional dealings with, there is nothing in the recordings related to the MSI-Corinthians matter or any illegal act.

Como vemos, trata-se de mais uma peça caluniosa de Veja que, infelizmente, conta com o apoio de autoridades que deveriam preservar o sigilo legal das interceptações telefônicas. A verdade é que não fui denunciado, como a própria revista publica, e nada nas gravações me liga ou envolve com qualquer ilicitude ou ilegalidade.

As we see, this is one more piece of slander from Veja, which, sadly, counts on the support of official who ought to preserve the legal confidentiality of telephone intercepts.

This really is surprising. I mean, our U.S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald threw people in jail to try to get to the bottom of a very serious breach of confidentiality. Right?

And a news photographer got thrown in jail last year for photographing a jury in a case where publishing photographs of the jury represented a serious risk to the safety of the jury.

That news photographer was found in contempt of court.

And the Brazilian authorities seem to apply the same principle. In some cases. But not in others. See

The fact is that I was not charged with anything, as the magazine itself admits, and nothing on the recordings connects or involves me in any illicit or illegal act.

Trata-se, como já afirmei, de perseguição política da revista numa tentativa de inviabilizar minha vida profissional. Fui cassado sem provas, deixei o governo e, agora, querem impedir que eu trabalhe. Vou lutar e resistir. Não deixo nem minha atividade profissional de consultor e advogado, nem minha militância política como petista.

This is, as I have said, a case of political persecution by the magazine in a bid to undermine my professional career. I was removed from office without evidence, left the government, and now they want to prevent me from working. I am going to fight back. I am not going to stop working as a consultant and attorney, and I am not going to stop being an activist in my party.

The nebulous, deep background theory on the ratfinking of Dirceu — I simply pass it along as “buzz,” without necessarily vouching for it: That They never forgave him for his role in kidnapping the American ambassador in the late 1960s.

And that some of the stuff Veja magazine prints represents your gringo tax dollars at work.

Which would be kind of problematic, if true.

And indeed, CartaCapital ran an astonishing interview with a former U.S. law enforcement official in Brazil suggesting that it was. That those guys who Larry Rohter liked to lunch with owned journalists. The USG dismissed the guy’s statements as the ravings of a disgruntled employee.

Tanto a matéria da semana retrasada – “A nebulosa de José Dirceu” (só para assinantes), como a desta semana, como já afirmei na nota “A CPI da Abril”, postada aqui no blog no dia 25 de agosto, é uma vendeta da Editora Abril a uma suposta participação minha na instalação de uma CPI na Câmara dos Deputados para investigar a venda da TVA, do grupo Abril,para a Telefônica. Como já esclareci, não tive nenhuma participação nas legítimas iniciativas de parlamentares que querem investigar aquela venda.

In last week’s article — “The nebulous Zé Dirceu” — and this week’s, as I said in my blog post “The CPI of the Abril Group” on August 25, this is a vendetta by the Editora Abril publishing group based on my alleged role in installing a commission of inquiry in the lower house of congress to investigate the sale of TVA to Telefónica. As I have already explained, I had no rule in the legitimate initiative taken by lawmakers who want to investigate that deal.

Next step: Let’s see if we can find the article in question. Without having to pay for it. (I have never paid to get (mind)fucked in my life, and I am not going to start now.)

Then we will see if a decent debate gets going over the story. I imagine you will see the usual suspects lining up to defend Veja in the Observatório da Imprensa, but maybe they will pleasantly surprise me.

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“Shame! How the Senate buried ethics and saved the sex Senator!”
Please. Veja setting out to lecture anyone on ethics is like Bruce Wayne leading the crusade against vigilante caped crusaders driving illegal jet-powered hot rods on Gotham City streets.


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