Manhattan Connection: “Dantas Must Prove Bribery of Judge”

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“Factual discovery shall be complete by May 1, 2008.” International Equity Investments, Inc. v. Opportunity Equity Partners, Ltd., et ano., Lewis A. Kaplan, presiding for the District Court of the Southern District of New York; Date filed: 03/10/2005; Date of last filing: 12/13/2007

The folklore of corruption is good business — for the corrupt. –Elio Gaspari

“Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence” –Carl Sagan

Item: EX-PRESIDENTE DO STJ DESAFIA DANTAS (“Former federal judge defies, challenges Dantas.”)

Justiça de Nova York fixou os prazos pelos quais julgará uma ação que o Citibank move contra o banqueiro brasileiro, Daniel Dantas. E uma das decisões do juiz Lewis Kaplan, da Justiça de Nova York, foi exigir que Dantas desse as provas para a acusação de que o Citibank subornou o Ministro Edson Vidigal, ex-presidente do Superior Tribunal de Justiça do Brasil (clique aqui para ler “Juiz de NY quer provas de suborno de Dantas”).

A New York court has set a trial date for Citibank’s lawsuit against Brazilian banker, Daniel Dantas. One of the rulings by judge Lewis Kaplan was that Dantas must furnish evidence for his accusation that Citibank bribed Justice Edson Vidigal, former justice of [the Tupi equivalent of our federal Circuit Court of Appeals, kind of.]

A British court found Dantas had fabricated evidence and perjured himself in a related lawsuit with a former business partner, originally adjudicated in the Caymans. This according to what I read fromm CartaCapital — also alleged victims of alleged Kroll wiretaps. (“Perjured” may not be the precise term — we are talking about an alien judicial system with periwigged judges undergirded by an absolute monarch, after all, and IANAL — but let us just say, generally speaking, in a lay sense, “stated nonexistent facts based on fabricated evidence.”)

I will translate the interview with Mr. Vidigal below.

Let me set the stage here: Conversa Afiada is the Web log of political journalist Paulo Henrique Amorim, who believes that he was among the journalists, business competitors, and government officials illegally wiretapped by Kroll, at the behest of banker Daniel Dantas of the Opportunity Group.

Dantas was fighting to maintain control of Brasil Telecom, over the objections of pension funds with seats on the board and against Hobbesian competition from Telecom Italia. Before he was removed from the board, he inserted a clause that permitted Harvard Law professor Roberto Mangabeira Unger to continue to represent his interests on the board as his proxy or some such thing.

This entire grand guignol, which makes the antics of the Hewlett-Packard boardroom dispute look like a giggling pillow fight in the freshman dorms at Radcliffe, has produced some astonishing moments in the malpractice of journalism.

Among the most astonishing was Veja magazine’s publication, in May 2006, of a dossier suggesting that the head of the Brazilian federal police and senior government officials — including the president of Brazil and a prominent opposition Senator who is a former head of the federal police — have Swiss bank accounts containing bribe money they were allegedly paid by the Italians to (1) unduly favor Dantas’ adversaries and competitors and (2) mount a massive conspiracy to frame the MIT-trained venture capitalist.

See also

It actually might be profitably compared in some ways to the so-called Clearstream II affair in France:

Prominent public personages. Bribe money in Swiss bank accounts. Phony dossiers. This soap-opera plot seems to have been globalized more thoroughly than Betty La Fea.

Firms controlled by Dantas were the largest depositors in the account of DNA Propaganda, focus of investigations into the Belo Horizonte Baldy money-laundering and political slush-fund case.

The partners in DNA and related ad agencies face more than 700 criminal charges in the so-called “big monthly” and “big monthly of Minas Gerais” cases — which seem to me like they are actually one and the same vast, ongoing funny-money maractuia, their separation into two cases looking like something of a prosecutorial fiction.

Criminal charges related to laundering illegal private donations and public money into political slush funds.

On which see also

Veja justified running the “Swiss bank account dossier”story by saying that, while there many signs that the “dossier” might be inauthentic — it did not tell us what those were — it nevertheless found the story plausible. See

Which was one of the most jaw-dropping cases of logic-chopping I think I have ever seen in my life. And I read the Brazilian press every day, so the hinges of my jaws are more well-oiled than the Tin Woodsman’s after Dorothy rescues the poor fellow and he launches into “If I only had a heart” — with that delightful use of the ocarina in the orchestration.

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“Exemplary reporting:” Veja on its relationship with Daniel Dantas, May 24, 2006. Source: Click to zoom

It is a case that also bears comparing with the so-called “Rathergate” affair, I keep saying.

Remember that? A 60 Minutes report, on charges that Bush benefited from “fortunate son” favoritism to get out of going to Vietnam, relied on a document whose authenticity was challenged, and which, in the end, could also not be definitively authenticated.

The difference was that CBS presented quite a bit of corroborating evidence to support what was, probably foolishly, presented as a “smoking gun” document. In the end, however, CBS could only say — as Veja has said about this document — that expert examinations could not definitively establish the inauthenticity of the document.

This was the same argument that Veja used in the case of the Swiss bank dossier. Veja, however, does not think we need to know the details of those putative expert findings — or who was hired to find them. Ecce Veja.

Even so, Dan Rather lost his job over the incident — unfairly, as he will argue in a lawsuit against CBS. Veja magazine, on the other hand, has explained to us, essentially, that it decided to believe in the plausibility of its “smoking gun” dossier because it is its God- [or Demiurge]-given right to believe in, and scream into the gazillion-jigawatt megaphone, propositions for which there is no solid evidence, or really any evidence at all.

Faith-based investigative journalism, in other words. “If I choose not to believe in the Second Law of Thermodynamics, that is my God-given right!”

Also known as rumor-mongering, or “the journalism of” — Jeff Jarvis deserves (dis)credit for promoting and commercializing the catchphrase — “the buzz machine.”

Veja continues to monger a rumor the basis for which Veja itself has admitted is shaky at best — and most likely pure bunkum, given the conflicts of interest at work here — in fact. See

This is one of the most interesting manifestations of the Edelman-Rendón Rashomon effect in contemporary world journalism, I find — although really, it is the oldest story in the world, in a way. See

I was just re-reading an obscure little monograph I have lying around — at one point, as a Berserkeley doutorável, I was deeply into the “history of historiography” — about Middle English histories of the Crusades, for example, that recount victories over the fearsome Saladin that never actually occurred.

Promoting gabbling disinformation is, after all, one of the world’s oldest professions.

God: “Where is your brother?”

Cain: “How the hell should I know, your omniscient Dudeness?”

That is your story so far.

And now for another thrilling chapter!

Brought to you by the good folks at Gleemonex! [Organ music swells]

O Ministro Edson Vidigal disse em entrevista a Paulo Henrique Amorim nesta terça-feira, dia 11, que Daniel Dantas vai ter que provar a acusação de suborno (clique aqui para ouvir o áudio).

Justice Vidigal said in a December 11 interview with Amorim that Dantas will have to prove the bribery accusation.

“Eu acho que ele tem que provar todas as acusações. Ele andou mandando grampear a mim e a outras pessoas, jornalistas, inclusive… não posso afirmar, mas fui avisado na época que tomasse muito cuidado porque ele mandava me seguir, mandava me grampear”, disse Vidigal.

“I think he needs to prove those accusations. He went around wiretapping me and others, journalists, even … I can confirm it, but I was warned at the time to take care, because he ordered me followed, ordered me bugged,” Vidigal said.

Vidigal disse que nenhuma das ações contra Dantas que ele julgou tinha o Citibank como demandante. “Não tenho a menor noção (do motivo dessa acusação de suborno), porque nos autos o Citibank nem é demandante. As demandas eram dos fundos de pensão Previ, Banco do Brasil, Petrobras… e esses fundos de pensão que eram administrados pelo Opportunity”, disse Vidigal.

Vidigal said that none of the lawsuits against Dantas that he presided over had Citibank as a party. “I have not the slightest idea (of the reason for this accusation of bribery), because Citibank does not even figure as a plaintiff in those cases. The plaintiffs were the PREVI pension fund, the pension funds for Banco do Brasil, Petrobras … and these pension funds were administered by Opportunity,” said Vidigal.

O Ministro Vidigal disse que quer saber também no que deu a investigação sobre a informação da revista Veja de que Dantas foi o autor intelectual de uma reportagem que “denunciou” supostas contas secretas do presidente Lula e do então diretor-geral da Polícia Federal, Dr. Paulo Lacerda, no exterior.

Vidigal said he would also like to know what ever became of the investigation into a report in Veja magazine, according to which Dantas was the source of a report that “denounced” supposed secret offshore bank accounts belong to the president and then-director of the federal police, Lacerda.

Lacerda is now the director of ABIN, the “Tupi CIA.”

“Esse cidadão não é aquele que entregou à revista Veja um dossiê envolvendo o então diretor-geral da Polícia Federal e o Presidente da República (sobre supostas contas secretas fora do Brasil)? E eu queria saber também o que deu isso”, disse Edson Vidigal.

“Is this citizen [Dantas] not the same one who handed Veja a dossier involving the head of the federal police and [President Squid]? I would really like to know what became of that,” said Vidigal.

Em tempo: o Conversa Afiada encaminhou ao diretor-geral da Polícia Federal, Luis Fernando Corrêa, essa entrevista com o Ministro Edson Vidigal, que se fez acompanhar também da perplexidade do Conversa Afiada diante da demora da Polícia Federal para concluir a investigação sobre a reportagem da revista Veja, sob inspiração de Daniel Dantas, que disse que o presidente Lula tem uma conta secreta no exterior. Aguardamos uma resposta.

This column sent a copy of this interview to the new federal police director, Corrêa, expressing our perplexity as well over the delay in concluding an investigation over that Veja report, inspired by Daniel Dantas, which said that President Squid had a secret offshore bank account. We are awaiting a reply.

Look, I often think that Amorim is a bit too close to this story for his own good — he was one of the alleged wiretapping targets, and I tend to think martyrdom narratives are unprofessional (when you become part of the story, you can no longer cover it effectively; just ask Dan Rather) — but I also think this is a fair question.

I, too, am dying to know.

And I bet those Citigroup law-dogs are, too. (Are they Amorim’s source on this? He does not say.)

(I own no shares in Citi or related enterprises, and am actually one of those annoying people who goes around referring to the consumer-banking division as Shittybank, I hasten to add. I base this on personal vigilante-consumer experiences which if you buy me beer I will fulminate about at length until you wish you had not asked.)

Leia a íntegra da entrevista com o Ministro Edson Vidigal:

The interview with Edson Vidigal:

Paulo Henrique Amorim – Ministro, o senhor tomou alguma decisão que tivesse sido em benefício do Citibank ou em detrimento de Daniel Dantas que justificasse ele dizer isso do senhor?

Amorim: Did you take any decisions benefiting Citibank or to the detriment of Dantas that would justify what he says about you?

Edson Vidigal – Não. Na condição de presidente do Superior Tribunal de Justiça eu adotei algumas decisões e uma demanda… os fundos de pensão demandavam contra o Opportunity, nada pessoal com a pessoa desse cidadão e nada referente, objetivamente, com o Citibank. Os demandantes eram os fundos de pensão e um deles acusava o Opportunity de gestão penhorada dos fundos, o que significaria, salvo engano, na época, um prejuízo que envolvia algo em torno de R$ 30 milhões de dinheiro público, porque a União tinha parte nisso, porque uma parte era dos representados e uma proposta envolvia dinheiro público. E então, desde o primeiro momento, eu tive dificuldades para fazer cumprir as decisões judiciais. E como só acontecia quando as questões são levadas à Justiça, todos têm direito a recurso. E todos os recursos que foram entrepostos contra as minhas decisões foram confirmados, as minhas decisões foram confirmadas em plenário da corte especial do Superior Tribunal de Justiça. Eu lembro até também que chegou a mim uma carta rogatória de um juiz da Suprema Corte de uma ilha, um paraíso fiscal…

Vidigal: No. As president of the STJ, I ratified some rulings and a complaint … the pension funds sued Opportunity, nothing against Dantas personally, and nothing having to do, objectively, with Citibank. The plaintiffs were the pension funds and accused Opportunity of [breach of fiduciary duty, let us say, fudging the translation a little –Ed.], which implied, if I am not mistaken, at the time, a loss of something like R$30 million in public money, because the federal Union had a share in this, because part of the loss was absorbed by the pension fund subscribers and a proposal involved public funds. So, from the beginning, I had difficulties enforcing compliance with judicial rulings. And as always happens when issues get taken to court, all parties have a right of appeal. And all the appeals against my rulings were upheld, that is, my rulings were upheld in the special session of the STJ. I remember also that I received an interrogatory letter from a Supreme Court justice in some fiscal paradise …

Paulo Henrique Amorim – Cayman provavelmente.

Probably the Caymans.

Edson Vidigal – É. E nesse processo este senhor era acusado também de ter dado um golpe bilionário em várias pessoas, em várias pessoas jurídicas, algo em torno de US$ 300 milhões. E o que eu tinha que fazer naquela ocasião era mandar citá-lo e a verdade é que eu deixei a presidência do Tribunal e não consegui que a citação fosse feita dada as manobras que eram feitas pelos seus advogados e que eu também tinha que respeitar o ponto de vista processual, legal. Eu não podia, na marra, fazer essa citação. Mas eles procrastinaram de todas as maneiras possíveis. Disso eu me lembro muito bem. Quanto ao mais, eu acho que ele tem que provar todas as acusações. Ele andou grampeando a mim e a outras pessoas, jornalistas, inclusive…

Right. And in this case this gentleman was accused of ripping off various parties to the tune of a billion, various companies, something in the neighborhood of US$300 million.

The dollar was above R$3 at the time — those were the days! — so “billionaire” is not too much of an exaggeration.

What I had to do on that occasion was issue a summons, and the truth is that I left the office of presiding justice without being able to issue that summons, thanks to maneuvers by his lawyers and also because I had to respect due process, the legal formalities. I was not, in the end, able to issue that summons. But they procrastinated in every way imaginable. I remember this quite well. As to the rest I think they have to prove all the accusations. They wiretapped me and others, journalists, even …

Of which Amorim was allegedly one.

Paulo Henrique Amorim – O senhor foi grampeado pelo Daniel Dantas?

Were you bugged by Dantas?

Edson Vidigal – Não, eu não posso afirmar, mas fui avisado na época que tomasse muito cuidado porque ele mandaria me seguir, mandaria me grampear, que era para eu tomar cuidado. O hotel onde eu me hospedava tinha que fazer varredura antes, afinal de contas, eu exercia uma função pública da maior relevância na República do Brasil, eu era presidente da maior corte infra-constitucional do país. Então, as minhas decisões tinham repercussão muito grande, não só do ponto de vista da ordem pública, mas também do dinheiro público. E no caso, todas as minhas decisões foram em defesa do dinheiro público, do patrimônio público. Eu acho que o juiz está certo, ele tem mais é que provar, chamá-lo a provar essas imputações. Eu acho esquisito é que durante todo o tempo que processo rolou no Brasil essa acusação não tenha aparecido, não é? E eu não tenho nada a fazer, não sou mais nem ministro, todo mundo sabe que eu deixei a presidência do Tribunal, renunciei à presidência do Tribunal e deixei a magistratura. Concorri ao Governo do Estado do Maranhão e fui até bem sucedido e agora exerço a minha profissão de advogado e de jornalista.

No, I cannot confirm that, but I was warned at the time to take care because he may have ordered me followed, bugged, that I should be careful. The hotel where I was staying had to be swept beforehand, after all, I was occupying a very important public post, I was president of the highest court in the land, short of the Supreme Court. So my decisions had great impact not just from the point of view of public order but also as regarding public funds. And in this case, all my decisions were in defense of public funds, public property. I think the [New York] judge is right, he [Dantas] has a lot more to prove, calling on him to prove these allegations. I find it odd that during the whole time the case dragged on in Brazil this accusation never surfaced. Don’t you? And I have nothing else to do, I am no longer a justice, everyone knows I withdrew from the presidency of the court, left the judiciary. I ran for governor of Maranhão and actually did pretty well and now I practice law and journalism.

He served in Congress from 1978 to 1983. As a journalist, has written for Veja, O Globo, and the Correio Braziliense. He ran on the Socialist (PSB) ticket. I am reading his CV.

Paulo Henrique Amorim – Mas a alegação do Daniel Dantas, junto à Justiça de Nova York é que quem o teria subornado foi o Citibank. Por que o senhor imagina que o Citibank teria feito isso na opinião dele?

But Dantas alleges to the New York court that it was Citibank that supposedly bribed you. Why do you think he believes Citibank would do that?

I wonder if you can get the pleadings in that case?

With all due respect to Mr. Amorim, the prudent skeptical inquirer should, as a matter of routine, check to see if the judge, and the plaintiff and defendant, said what it is said that they said.

The gringo federal courts — I am not too happy about having to pay for access to public-domain information, are you? — now require you to pay for electronic access to the PACER system, but I think you can get them. Let me see if I can do that.

It would help to know what court the case is being heard in.

Federal for the New York Southern District, I would venture to guess. You know, down there near Columbus Park, not far from the fabulous Tweed Courthouse — named New York City “white elephant of the century” for two centuries running.

It is kind of amazing that there is no newsflow in English on this story.

A $300 million lawsuit involving Hobbesian business practices and colorful characters with Ivy League educations and a history of working on the taxpayer dime in obscure functions and causes — I am thinking of the ex-CIA guy from Kroll whom, Veja reports, cooked up the “dossier” — is not chopped liver.

Edson Vidigal – Eu não tenho a menor noção, porque nos autos o Citibank não era nem demandante. A demanda era feita pelos os fundos de pensão, Previ, Banco do Brasil, Petrobras e esses fundos de pensão que eram administrados pelo Opportunity. E realmente por conta da minha decisão eles devem ter se sentido prejudicados, porque ele recorreu e perdeu, perdeu em todas. E ele perdeu, por conseguinte, o controle da administração dos fundos. A gente sabe, o que eu soube depois também é que o grupo que assumiu concede investigações sobre diversas irregularidades que teriam sido praticadas nessa gestão, que realmente é uma gestão temerária com o dinheiro público e com o dinheiro dos aposentados. São coisas do Brasil, quer dizer, esse cidadão, isso é público e notório não é aquele que entregou à revista Veja um dossiê o então diretor-geral da Polícia Federal e o Presidente da República?

I have not the slightest notion, because Citibank was not even a party to these cases. The plaintiffs were the pension funds, Previ, Banco do Brasil, Petrobras, and these pension funds were managed by Opportunity. And really, they must have felt my decisions harmed them, because they appealed them all and lost all the appeals. And he lost, as a result, control of the pension funds. We know, what I learned later also, is that the group that assumed control are investigating various irregularities allegedly practiced during that administration, which really was an administration that [played fast and loose] with public funds and the money of retirees. Only in Brazil; that is to say, this citizen, this is public and notorious, is he not the one who gave Veja that dossier on Lacerda and Lula?

And Tuma, and others.

I find the inclusion of Tuma the most interesting fact of all.

Until recently, Tuma was a São Paulo senator for the ex-PFL (DEM), led the federal police in the bad old days, and even worked at the notorious DOI-DOPS at one point. The political police. (DOI in Portuguese means “it hurts.” The torture dungeons across from the Estação da Luz are now a museum. I have been inside them. Creepy.)

He is now the corregedor of the Senate — the officer in charge of internal investigations of Senatorial ethical misconduct and lapses in “decorum” — and recently jumped parties from the DEM (ex-PFL) to the PTB (a holdover from the Vargas era, right? to which I believe ex-President Collor also now belongs, am I right?)

Members of the Cardoso government were also reportedly bugged — in one case, thanks to a case of mistaken identity, allegedly. Quack. Are we gringos really getting the best spies for our taxpayer dollar? Or are they hiring Moonies now? As a member of the 39% tax bracket — yaaaaagh! — I think I have a right to ask that.

Paulo Henrique Amorim – Exatamente, a revista Veja diz que ele é o autor intelectual da reportagem.

Correct, Veja says that he is the one behind that report.

Edson Vidigal – E eu queria também saber o que é que deu isso, não é? Crimes muito potenciais foram comprometidos por aquelas pessoas e publicaram aquele estardalhaço na revista Veja. A função que eu exerci é muito mais perigosa, do ponto de vista pessoa, do que a de repórter policial dos anos 60, dos anos 50 no Rio de Janeiro. O repórter policial corria muito risco de vida. E o juiz no Brasil também, principalmente quando ele tem a coragem, que eu sempre tive, que nunca me faltou, de tomar as decisões que têm que ser tomadas sem olhar a quem. Como diz o provérbio, “duela a quien duela”.

And I would really like to know what happened there, you know? Extremely potential crimes [sic (?)] were compromised [committed] by these people and they published that noisy nonsense in Veja. The job I had is a lot more dangerous, from a personal point of view, than that of a police reporting in the 1960s, the 1950s in Rio de Janeiro. The police reporter then ran the risk of losing his life. And the Brazilian judge as well, especially when he has the courage, as I always did, and it never failed me, to take decisions that have to be taken, without looking at who was involved. As the proverb goes, “No matter who gets hurt.”

If he does say so himself.

Paulo Henrique Amorim – Caríssimo ministro, posso voltar a chamá-lo de colega, então.

Closing pleasantries.

Edson Vidigal – Colega sim, claro. Eu estou escrevendo um artigo semanal para alguns sites, voltei a dar aula em uma universidade federal, obtive a minha ex-função, como jornalista profissional e a minha inscrição como advogado na OAB de São Paulo e na OAB de Brasília. Então nós estamos juntos aí.

Closing pleasantries.

The judge now blogs.

Follow-up: I submitted my credit card to PACER, the federal court e-document service — $0.08 per page — and was promised an e-mail instructing me how to set up a login and password.

I am still waiting. It has been several hours now.

Could it be that this is one of the those e-government deals where the magical e-system simply e-mails a non-automated meatspace Bureaucrat 1.0, who works at the same meatspace pace as ever?

(Remember when Homer is unable to build a fighting robot — Homer is so proverbially inept that his picture illustrates the dictionary definition of “oaf” or “boob,” I forget which — so he just inserts himself and goes out to fight the other robots himself? Kind of like that?)

Okay, I got in. Hurray for the miracle of e-government!

Reading. Stay tuned. But remember: IANAFL.

The image “” cannot be displayed, because it contains errors.
“Motion to Compel Production of Documents Related to the Removal of Banco Opportunity S.A.” Denied. “ORDER: The [532] Motion of Banco Opportunity S.A. to Compel Production of Documents is DENIED as further set forth in said Order. (Signed by Judge Lewis A. Kaplan on 11/27/07).” Reading.


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