Brazil: Attuch’s Book of Revelations

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A quick NMM triage finds that exposes based on leaked “top secret” documents from sources unspecified, of which only partial facsmiles of 20% of its pages are presented to the reader, should most likely should be shunted to the “probably nonsense — waste no time on, but hold for comment by responsible adults” bin.

The Italian executive, who is a defendant in the ongoing trial in Milan, is writing a book about all that he experienced in Brazil. He has completed two chapter. It is a spy novel based on actual events with some names changed that begins with his arrival in Rio de Janeiro. “There are many lies in this whole episode, told by both sides,” he says.

That whereof we cannot speak meaningfully we must pass over in silence. –Ludwig Wittgenstein

Consultor Jurídico (Brazil) runs the following reprint, with framing comment, of an article that ran in Istoé Dinheiro (Brazil) this week — “includes content from Fortune!” — bylined to the irrepressible Leonardo Attuch.

It deals, as Attuch himself breathlessly perseverates, with one of the weirdest international business disputes you have ever seen in your life: the fight for control of Brasil Telecom.

But as one Web-site commentator on the article writes:

Avante PF! Toda a grita e toda nebulosidade é para propiciar que a caravana de ilícitos passe desapercebida.

Onward and upward, federal police! All this noise, all these smoke and mirrors are designed to pave the way for the caravan of illegal acts to pass unnoticed.

Is that comment fair?

Is this noise?

Well, this is an “exposé” based on leaked statements, source unstated, by a cooperating witness turned defendant in the case in question.

Who is, we are told in a sidebar, currently at work on a book on the case that scumbles the difference between fact and fiction.

So hell, yes, the needle on the patented NMM “signal to noise” sorting gizmo immediately pegs out violently to “noise.”

The apparatus then starts smoking and making alarming grinding and crunching noises.

Not least because Attuch is a party to the dispute himself, and has stated quite openly in the past that one of the objectives of his reporting on this case is to vindicate his own reputation.

Because when you become the story, you can no longer report on it effectively. Ask Dan Rather.

The CJ commentary lacks a byline.

If it were a Slashdot comment or blog entry, it would bear the byline of “Anonymous Coward.”

As the CJ notes:

Acusado, à época, de produzir notícias para beneficiar Daniel Dantas — a ponto de a PF ter inventado a “Operação Gutenberg” cujo único alvo era ele — o jornalista Leonardo Attuch publica esta semana na revista Dinheiro, da Editora Três, reportagem sobre o chefe dos espiões italianos que foi quem trouxe ao Brasil o famoso dossiê de 2004. Pelas mãos do jornalista, fica-se sabendo que autoridades brasileiras andaram praticando atos que não saíram no Diário Oficial.

Accused at the time of producing news designed to benefit Daniel Dantas — to the point that the federal police cooked up “Operation Gutenberg,” who only target was him — journalist Leonardo Attuch publishes a report in Dinheiro this week about the Italian spymaster who brought the famous dossier of 2004 to Brazil. Through this journalist, we learn that Brazilian officials were engaged in activities that were not published in the Official Diary.

In rebutting the accusations, Attuch compared himself to Vladimir Herzog, the TV Cultural murdered by political police in the late 1970s. Among other astonishing fits of rhetorical excess.

Compare

Great minds think alike, I guess.

An item in Veja magazine’s “Radar” column — apparently leaked from the police investigation, given that it was anonymously sourced and that that case also continues under judicial seal — first reported on the accusations against Attuch.

That he sold out his journalistic integrity, that is.

Anonymously sourced and cannot be fact-checked.

Ecce Veja.

But of course, that sort of thing is not unheard of in the annals of world business journalism. See, for example,

Then again, as it turns out, Attuch’s story is also based on secret court documents, leaked by only God, and possibly the magistrate who issued the gag order, may have some idea who.

There is a good reason why leak journalism and anonymous sourcing are frowned upon, except in very clearly defined exceptional circustances, by the reality-based community.

“Consider the source.” Period. It is a right of the reader. If you cannot give names, give as much information as possible. And explain the circumstances. A real possibility of the source getting savagely killed for talking is a fairly uncontroversial reason for the grant of anonymity, for example.

Other recent reporting from Attuch, whose biography of Norberto Odebrecht is also on my bookshelf:

Attuch had promised earlier this year that, fresh back from Milan and legal proceedings there in the weird saga of the Pirelli clan, Telecom Italia, and industrial espionage that involved bugging the prime minister of Italy, that he would publish astonishing new revelations about the case in short order.

Revleations that would clear his name and point to the true killers of Nicole Brown Simpson!

This, apparently — somewhat delayed in arriving — is that Book of Revelations.

It turns out to be semi-fictional.

On the (mostly uninformative) background to the dispute — but interesting as literary specimens of post-contemporary logic-chopping and confabulation — see:

What to make of it all?

I have not the slightest idea.

I want to make that clear that up front. In fact, I really don’t think anyone does at this point. Except the people involved. Who have nothing particularly coherent to say on the matter.

(I am collecting clippings on the infamous CPI of Banestado, which first stirred up this hornet’s nest, it seems. Incluing the much-maligned final report from the congressional probe.

Because while it may have been much maligned here in Brazil, but the CPI of Banestado did wind up being the basis for the indictment of Paulo Maluf by the Manhattan District Attorney, I was noticing. A fact that Larry Rohter found “bizarre.” See

It promises to be an awful lot of work. I would prefer to pay a good investigative journalist to do it for me.

One who, for example, sources their facts and identifies their sources.)

On the other hand, it must be noted that among Attuch’s most vocal supporters are the likes of TERNUMA and Olavo de Carvalho, as I have observed before.

Gabbling Moonie spooks, pretty much.

So that if someone gave me a gazillion bucks to start a news publication for the reality-based business community in Brazil — not recommended, send no money, but just suppose — those testimonials would not exactly make me eager to hire the guy.

Okay, so let’s translate a fair-use specimen of this (unbylined) preface to, and cut-and-paste of, this serially published “spy vs. spy” novel here.

Then let’s see if we can find some commentary from different adult perspectives on the case of “David Sasaki-style fear and misinformation abound on the South American Internet backbone.”

I am trying to collect clippings from the Italian press as well.

I read it pretty good, even if I don’t talk it much beyond prego and ciao, Marcello!

Em julho de 2004, a Folha de S.Paulo publicou uma reportagem trepidante. O jornal apresentou um dossiê demonstrando que o empresário Daniel Dantas, em uma disputa pelo controle de operadoras de telefonia, encomendara uma investigação secreta contra a Telecom Italia que alcançou gente do mercado e do governo. A empresa contratada para essa finalidade foi a multinacional Kroll.

In July 2004, the Folha de S. Paulo published an astonishing report, presenting a dossier showing that businessman Daniel Dantas, in a dispute for the control of a telephone operator, had ordered a secret investigation against Telecom Italia that involved people in the government and the market. The firm hired for this purpose was the multinational Kroll.

Adjectives have no place in the lede of a news story, as the editor in chief of Bloomberg, Mr. Winkler, famously said.

Kroll: “A subsidiary of Marsh & McLennan Companies” at the time. [is it still? Check.]

See

O resultado conhecido desse furo de reportagem, que chegou ao jornal pela empresa italiana, foi a queda de Dantas. Mas algumas questões fundamentais ficaram sem resposta até agora. Afinal, como é que uma investigação secreta como aquela foi parar justamente nas mãos de seus alvos?

The well-known result of this journalistic scoop, which the Folha got from the Italian press, was the fall of Dantas. But some fundamental questions remain unanswered to this day. In the final analysis, how could a secret judicial investigation wind up in the hands of one of its principal targets?

Good question.

I thought Leonardo Attuch was the sole target of this alleged Gestapo ratfink campaign?

A resposta para essa pergunta começa a se desenhar agora, graças a um pesado processo judicial em andamento na Itália. O motivo é fácil de compreender: os acionistas daquele país querem saber o que foi feito dos milhões de euros pagos a brasileiros, sem que a Telecom italiana ganhasse aqui os mercados que pretendia.

The outlines of an answer to this question are starting to appear now, thanks to a compendious lawsuit going on in Italy. The reason is easy to understand: The shareholders of that country want to know what happened to millions of euros paid to Brazilians, while Telecom Italia failed to gain the market share it hoped.

Do que descobriu a justiça italiana até agora, já se pode chegar a algumas conclusões. É fato que a Kroll investigou concorrentes, adversários e inimigos de Daniel Dantas. Mas o famoso dossiê de julho de 2004 não é o do dono do Opportunity. O que os italianos divulgaram foi um conjunto de dados, apurações e afirmações produzido por eles próprios. Adequadamente maquiado e adaptado para atingir objetivos específicos, o tal dossiê parece ter sido uma manobra mais ousada do que as mais ousadas manobras atribuídas a Dantas.

From what the Italian court has uncovered so far, we can already reach some conclusions. It is a fact that Kroll was investigating competitors, adversaries and enemies of Daniel Dantas. But the famous dossier of July 2004 did not come from Dantas.

Was this the dossier that claimed that the president of Brazil and the head of the federal police had dollar-denominated offshore bank accounts?

What the Italians have revealed publicly is that it was a combination of data, investigations and statements produced by the Italians themselves. Adequately made-up and adapted to strike at specific targets, this dossier appears to have been a maneuver that far outstrips even the most daring feats attributed to Dantas.

Dantas did not do it!

Dantas faces criminal charges in the Kroll case, by the way. I believe the matter is in pretrial hearings still. His last appeal to retain control of BrT in the United States failed on August 30, 2007.

Angelo Janonne, o personagem da reportagem, sustentava que o CD da Kroll lhe chegara de forma anônima e ele, de boa fé, entregou o material à PF. Essa versão durou até o início deste ano, quando o hacker contratado para “produzir” o dossiê enxertado, Fabio Ghioni, confessou o delito. A partir desse momento, de testemunha, Janonne tornou-se réu no processo. E ele começou a falar.

Angelo Jannone, the protagonist of Attuch’s report, maintains that the Kroll CD was sent to him anonymously and that he, in good faith, gave that material to the federal police. This version of the story held up until early this year, when the “hacker” hired to “produce” this “grafted” dossier, Fabio Ghioni, confessed to the crime. From that moment on, Janonne, once a witness in the case, became a defendant. And he started to talk.

As coisas tendem a esquentar. Das primeiras notícias de que o dono do Opportunity investigara até gente do governo, tem-se uma evolução. O que chega agora da Itália é que a tal “gente do governo”, na realidade, é que investigava Dantas. Não em nome do interesse público — já que investigar dentro da lei é sempre saudável — mas para favorecer uma das partes da disputa empresarial, a Telecom Italia. Os acionistas da empresa, agora, querem seu dinheiro de volta. Ou, pelo menos, a responsabilização de quem o recebeu indevidamente.

Things started heating up. After the first reports that the owner of Opportunity had even investigated people in the government, the story evolved. What we now learn from Italy is that it was these “people in the government” who, in reality, were investigating Dantas. Not in the name of the public interest — for investigating legally is always healthy — but to favor one party to the dispute, Telecom Italia. The shareholders of the company now want their money back. Or, at least, to find out who got their hands on it.

And now the lead grafs of the article itself:

Confissões de um espião

Confessions of a spy

By Leonardo Attuch

Depoimento do chefe da espionagem da Telecom Italia à Justiça revela como a empresa se aproximou da Polícia Federal e da Abin na maior disputa empresarial do País, em busca do comando da Brasil Telecom.

Court testimony from Telecom Italia’s spy chief reveals how the company approached the Brazilian federal police and ABIN [the “Brazilian CIA”] about the biggest business dispute in Brazil, over control of Brasil Telecom.

Há um ano, às 10h40 do dia 14 de setembro de 2006, o [e]xecutivo italiano Angelo Jannone compareceu à sede da Procuradoria de Milão, Via Freguglia nº 1 e sentou-se diante do procurador Fábio Napoleone. Jannone, ex-chefe da área de segurança da Telecom Italia, empresa que controla a TIM e é acionista da Brasil Telecom (BrT), falou por mais de três horas. Saiu de lá apenas às 14h25, depois de reler com atenção e rubricar as 25 folhas do depoimento que prestou à Justiça italiana.

One year ago, at 10:40 am on September 14, 2006, Italian executive Angelo Jannone appeared at the headquarters of the Milan prosecutor … and sat down across from prosecutor Fabio Napoleone. Jannone, former security chief at Telecom Italia, which controls TIM and owns shares in Brasil Telecom, spoke for more than 3 hours. He left at 2:25 pm, after carefully re-reading and annotating the 25 pages of the statement he gave to Italian authorities.

No documento secreto, obtido pela DINHEIRO, Jannone narrou fatos que ajudam a decifrar uma das mais complexas disputas empresariais da história do País: a luta pelo comando da Brasil Telecom, que opunha a Telecom Italia ao grupo Opportunity, do banqueiro Daniel Dantas.

In this secret document, obtained by DINHEIRO magazine …

How?

… Jannone stated facts that help us to decipher one of the most complex business disputes in the history of Brazil …

Os pontos mais surpreendentes do testemunho de Jannone dizem respeito à forma como a Telecom Italia se aproximou de duas instituições do governo brasileiro – a Polícia Federal (PF) e a Agência Brasileira de Inteligência (Abin) – numa tentativa de conseguir apoio na guerra comercial empreendida contra Dantas (leia trechos nos destaques ao longo da reportagem). O executivo revelou os contatos que manteve com Mauro Marcelo, ex-chefe da Abin, e com um policial aposentado conhecido como Álvaro, que, segundo as investigações italianas, manteria boas relações com a cúpula da PF.

One of the most surprising points in his testimony had to do with the way Telecom Italia approached two institutions of the Brazilian government — the federal police and ABIN — for support in its business war against Dantas (read selections from the testimony in callouts throughout the body of the article).

I would rather read the whole thing.

If you have it, why not post it? The magazine article is peppered lightly with partial reproductions of five pages from the — how many pages? 25? — of the leaked secret document.

Leaked by whom?

Authenticated how?

The executive reveals the contacts he had with Mauro Marcelo, former ABIN chief, and a retired policeman known as Álvaro, who, according to the Italian investigations, maintained on good terms with federal police top leadership.

According to the investigation, or according to the witness?

As far as I know, there is nothing new here.

It is not an invariable rule, but transcribed excerpts from leaked secret documents that no one but the reporter has seen — I am searching in vain through the text for a sourcing statement on this exclusive glimpse at forbidden secrets — are very often correlated with a vigorous yanking of the reader’s chain.

Often so enough that I am now thoroughly bored.

Wake me when a representative sample of responsible adults with no dog in the fight who have also read and authenticated the entire document start talking.

Takeway: In my ongoing review of Brazilian business publications — which ones are worth reading these days? — DINHEIRO is not making a very good impression.

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