Dantas’ Inferno Is Stranger Than Fiction: Dona Janaína Protects Her Sources


Paraguayan photoshop job from the Ex-Petista blog, cited by Olavo Carvalho as a reliable source in a Zero Hora column: “Police find fingerprints of PT members on the money!” See Brazil: “We Must Clamp Down on the Nazi Internet!”

One English freelancer gets severely criticized in the Punch article for having conducted a study for Cedel and then presenting the results as a piece of journalism in Euromoney. In reporting the story, he gathered quotes frrom employees and directors who were critical of Cedel management, which were then sent to CEO André Lussi without appearing in print. The journalist in question, David Cowan, who had received hundreds of thousands of francs for this “report,” is now Clearstream’s director of corporate communications.

Arrastão is the blog of former Folha de São Paulo journalist (why “former,” I wonder?) turned “consultant” Janaína Leite.

In the most recent chapter of his series on peculiar local notions of best practices for business journalists — sell your poison pen to one side in a given business dispute — Brazilian business journalist Luis Nassif notes that in a blog post Ms. Leite defends a particular theory of the Telecom Italia industrial espionage case, currently under investigation by the Milan prosecutor, but cites no sources of the alleged information she presents weirdly, refers to what is apparently the Mainardian Milan Document without identifying it, or the source.

Nassif had written that a similar column, published at the same time, from Veja magazine’s Diogo Mainardi presented “a perfect example of the manipulation of news to suit the purposes of [parties to] business disputes.” See

I wanted to translate the post Nassif was referring to, along with Ms. Leite’s reply and the announcement that her column will be moving from Blogspot to Apostos.com.

Whois Apostos.com? Registered to:

Butter Consultoria
David Butter Nunes (altovoltablog@yahoo.com.br)
+55.2125493524
Fax: none
Marechal Mascarenhas de Morais St. 190, 303
Rio de Janeiro, RJ 22030-040
BR

Corner of Conrado Niemeyer in Copacabana.

And with whom does Mr. Butter consult? The main page at that URL looks like some sort of blog hosting site, with no information identifying it as the project of any consulting firm, not that I can see.

Which kind of tends to fit the general profile of an”astroturf” project: public relations campaigns using the Internet to spread rumors or “buzz” without the authorship of those rumors being traced back to the person who paid to have them spread. See also

Edelman Worldwide earned worldwide derision, for example, when a blog billed as a spontaneous outpouring of love and affection for its client, Wal-Mart, turned out to have been authored by undisclosed paid shills.

Shill:

Etymology: probably short for shillaber : one who acts as a decoy or steerer: as a : one who is employed by an amusement enterprise (as a circus or carnival) to get the sale of tickets started after the barker has finished his spiel b : one who is employed by a pitchman to pose as a member of the audience and make the first purchase c : one who is employed by a gambling house to pose as a customer and keep action going d : one who poses as an innocent bystander to help a confidence man win over a prospective victim

Mr. Butter Nunes googles up as a journalism student at the Federal University of Rio de Janeiro in 1990. Someone by that name also googles up as entering an Economics program at the Universidade Federal Fluminense in 1997. Apostos means “bets” in New (and Old) World Lusophone. Expect to see that domain reregistered to block whois queries shortly. Competent shills tend to think of this beforehand.

Ms. Leite, in her post titled “g00dboys,” does, as Mr. Nassif notes, seem to cite information also cited in the “confidential report of the Milan prosecutor” posted by the Veja columnist (without providing information on its provenance). And he is right: She does so with properly citing the source of any of the factoids she publishes.

Há alguns dias, o ombudsman da Folha reclamou da cobertura relativa ao processo judicial enfrentado pela Telecom Italia em seu país de origem. Pois bem. Aí vai uma dica que pode render boa matéria: a Procuradoria de Milão, que cuida do assunto, descobriu que a Telecom Italia escondeu contas suíças de altos dirigentes da empresa. As contas tinham sido encontradas pela Kroll.

A few days ago, the ombudsman of the Folha de S. Paulo complained of the coverage of the legal proceedings Telecom Italia faces in its country of origin. So okay. Here is a tip that might make a good article: The Milan prosecutor, which is in charge of the case, discovered that Telecom Italia hid the Swiss bank accounts of senior executives. These accounts had been discovered by Kroll.

Ah, você não está entendendo nada? Eu explico.

Ah, you don’t get any of this? Let me explain.

A Brasil Telecom (BrT, operadora das regiões Norte, Centro-Oeste e Sul) é uma espécie de dama medieval. Desde que foi criada, em 1998, com o leilão da Telebrás, há um monte de gente brigando por ela. Seus quatro principais sócios na época em que essa história começou eram fundos de pensão ligados a estatais, Citigroup, Opportunity e Telecom Italia. A administração da BrT cabia aos fundos geridos pelo Opportunity .

Brasil Telecom, which operates telecom services in the Brazilian North, Center-West and South, is a kind of medieval lady. Since its creation in 1998, with the privatization of Telebrás, it has a bunch of people fighting over it. Its four prinicipal shareholders at the time this story starts were pension funds for state-run companies, Citigroup, Opportunity, and TI. Funds managed by Opportunity were in charge of managing the company.

No dia 20 de dezembro de 2002, a pedido da Brasil Telecom, a Kroll abriu um novo caso. A partir daquela data, a maior agência de investigação do mundo iria se ocupar em coletar provas de que uma das acionistas da operadora, a Telecom Italia, atuava contra os interesses da empresa brasileira. Era o início do chamado “projeto Tóquio”, uma saga policial onde a realidade é capaz de fazer qualquer roteirista de Hollywood verde de inveja.

On December 20, 2002, at the request of Brasil Telecom, Kroll opened a new case. From that day forward, the world’s largest investigation agency would busy itself collecting evidence that one of the telecom’s shareholders, Telecom Italia, was acting against the interests of the Brazilian firm.

And, I imagine, on the hundreds, if not thousands, of other client accounts the firm has.

It was the beginning of the so-called “Tokyo Project,” a police drama in which reality is capable of making any Hollywood scriptwriter green with envy.

On the “life imitates cheap Hollywood movies” topos as a substitute for solidly sourced reporting not based on gabbling hearsay and rumors, see also

It has nearly become a fixed rule of thumb of mine: Anytime anyone tells you that a case is “stranger than fiction,” chances are they about to try to crudely bullshit you.

Because in my experience, the vast majority of the time, the truth is dull and pathetic. The villains are generally motivated by base drives and not that bright. Which is sometimes also true of the good guys. Often the good guys and bad guys are hard to distinguish.

If that were not the case, we would not need fiction to jazz life up for us.

Which would be a shame. I love fiction. In its place.

Na Kroll, a investigação ficou a cargo de um certo Richard Bastin, embora por pouco tempo. Meses depois ele foi contratado pela própria Telecom Italia. A troca de empregos _ e, ao que tudo indica, a entrega de parte dos dados obtidos pela investigação _ desencadeou uma fortíssima reação dos italianos, a “operação K”.

At Kroll, the investigation was run by a certain Richard Bastin, though not for long. A few months later he was hired by TI. The change of jobs — and from all indications, the handing over of part of the data obtained by his investigation [for Kroll] — unleashed a powerful response from the Italians, the so-called “Operation K.”

Aka “Kappa.”

Por conta delas, hackers que trabalhavam na área de segurança da Telecom Italia invadiram computadores da Kroll e roubaram as informações que ainda não tinham. Depois as gravaram em um CD, entregue à Polícia Federal brasileira como se tivesse sido obtido de forma anônima.

Hackers from the security division at TI broke into Kroll computers and stole the information they still lacked. They then burned them to a CD that they handed over to the Brazilian Federal police as if it had been obtained in an anonymous fashion.

This is what one witness says, sort of.

(A PF brasileira já estava investigando a Kroll, por conta do caso Parmalat. Juntou tudo e prendeu meio mundo em julho de 2004. O furdunço ganhou ampla cobertura da mídia e tornou-se conhecido como “caso Kroll”. Ainda rola na Justiça daqui.)

[tktktktk]

Acontece que esses hackers, cujos nomes de guerra são um show à parte, como “Sombra Divina” e “G00db0y”, participavam de um esquema de coleta e venda ilegal de informações, um mercado negro do grampo telefônico e eletrônico descoberto em 2006 pelos procuradores de Milão.

[tktktktk]

Ao longo do tempo, por conta dessa investigação e de outras, a Justiça italiana encontrou indícios da existência de uma rede que maquinava falências fraudulentas no Brasil. Essa rede abarcaria pessoas ligadas à Telecom Italia e sua fornecedora Tecnosistemi, além da Parmalat e da Cirio (Bombril).

[tktktktk]

A Kroll, muito antes dos procuradores italianos, tinha levantado dados sobre as triangulações. E, de quebra, descobriu contas bancárias na Suíça de dois importantes executivos da Telecom Italia. Por lá teria passado dinheiro da venda da operadora brasileira CRT.

[tktktktk]

Ambos, aliás, continuam trabalhando na operadora italiana. Um deles, segundo o depoimento de uma testemunha, negou a existência da conta.

Both, by the way, continued working for the Italian telecom. One of them, according to a witness statement, denied the existence of the account.

Which witness? In the document we all got from Mainardi of Veja, the witnesses are all fully identified and their statements summarized, using that prose style typical of cops and DAs the world over.

Who knows but that some of them are not gabbling crooks and liars?

This is an important matter to try to sort out before you start being impressed by factoids backed with (anonymous) “sources say.”

Depois de entregar o CD manipulado à PF brasileira, os italianos tentaram fazer algo semelhante com a polícia italiana, “os carabinieri”. Lá o golpe não deu certo.

After turning the manipulated CD over to the Brazilian federal police, the Italians tried to to do something similar with the Italian carabinieri. There the trick did not work.

The criminal charges Dantas faces in Brazil stem from alleged activities carried out long before the TI team arrived in Brazil, I think I read.

Outra coisa interessante que os procuradores de Milão descobriram é que a decisão de sumir com as informações contou com o aval, entre outros, de um executivo da Telecom Italia chamado Adamo Bove. Pena que não podem perguntar nada para ele: o rapaz suicidou-se em circunstâncias estranhíssimas quando estava começando a colaborar com o Ministério Público, passando outras informações para os procuradores. A família do morto não acredita que ele se jogou do viaduto.

[tktktktk]

Claro que alguns vão dizer (como parece que já fizeram com o ombudsman da Folha): “essas informações são todas falsas”. Ah, é? Peguem o documento onde a Procuradoria de Milão explica os motivos pelos quais mandou prender Angelo Jannone, ex-chefe da Segurança para a América Latina da Telecom Italia. Há vários depoimentos dizendo a mesma coisa.

Of course some people are going to say (as they have apparently already done to the Folha ombudsman): “All that information is false.” Is it? Get ahold of the document in which the Milan prosecutor explains the reasons they arrested Angelo Jannone, former head of security for TI in Latin America. Various witness statements say the same thing.

And which document is that?

“Imagina, isso é chute”. Se quiserem saber a opinião dos homens da Lei de Milão, procurem na página 261, rá.

“Oh, come one, this is a [bunch of lies].” If you want to know the opinion of the lawman from Milan, look on page 261, ha ha ha.

Page 261 of what?

Claro que quem tiver paciência de ler tudo vai encontrar muito, muito mais. O pessoal de lá e a turma com quem eles se metiam eram “tutti buona genti”, “g00db0ys”.

Of course, anyone with the patience to read the whole thing while find much, much more. The folks on one side and the gang they messed were all tutti buona genti, “g00db0ys.”

Mainardi did not publish the whole thing.

It starts on page 136 of whatever document it was that got leaked to him.

Someone really ought to translate Revélation$, by Denis Robert and Ernest Backes, on the Clearstream I affair– Clearstream II was an attempt to direct the vast and shadowy fear, uncertainty and doubt raised by Clearstream I at political and business adversaries using phony dossiers full of forged documents about secret bank accounts stuffed with bribe money — from the French to the Portuguese.

They recount some really hair-raising stories of cases very similar to the sort of conduct alleged here.

See also:

Crooked Journos: Continental Precursors

Some of the journalists on this list were paid off by Cedel. Under the headline “The bank that buys journalists,” the English satirical newspaper Punch revealed, in late 1997, that some of the journalists on this list, freelancing for such publications as the Financial Times, Euroweek, London Financial News and the International Financing Review, had received comfortable sums–Punch mentions a figure of 600,000 francs per year–in return for, among other things, criticizing Cedel’s competitor, Euroclear, and “building up the international profile” of Cedel’s CEO. One English freelancer gets severely criticized in the Punch article for having conducted a study for Cedel and then presenting the results as a piece of journalism in Euromoney. In reporting the story, he gathered quotes frrom employees and directors who were critical of Cedel management, which were then sent to CEO André Lussi without appearing in print. The journalist in question, David Cowan, who had received hundreds of thousands of francs for this “report,” is now Clearstream’s director of corporate communications. The Punch article, to our knowledge, has never been the subject of any libel action.

Plus ça change, plus ça la meme chose.

The latest Paris fashions apparently still only arrive in Rio de Janeiro a decade late.

In the next post: Dona Janaíana’s response to Nassif, pra inglês ver. Or maybe not. Why should one even care what this person has to say?

And then there is the Mainardi Milan Document itself — excerpts from some sort of report from the prosecutor’s office in Milan, it looks like — which contains lurid tales, to take an example at random, of Estonian hackers installing a packet-sniffer called Cain to get the login information of a mysterious “Omar” … No, wait, not so mysterious: A Kroll employee whose machine got hacked, allegedly at the behest of TI security in, what was this, 2004 (several years after the alleged Dantas wiretapping scheme) … at the Sofitel in Rio, what, huh?

The Italians apparently refer to this practice as sniffaggio. Go figure.

The hacking story could turn out to be extremely interesting in its own right, just from a technical point of view.

I am just getting started reading, really, so I cannot claim to understand a single word of it at this point … I have no idea what document I am supposed to looking at, its date, title or purpose, or who has highlighted it with a big, fat grease pencil and initialed every page.

Wake me when you have something solid. Otherwise, stop wasting my time.

What was the Folha ombudsman complaining about, anyway? I am a regular reader of Mr. Magalhães, and admire his judgment and tact. Maybe I should go read that.

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