Brazil: Teaching the Blind to Quango Tango?


“How much is that one, or do they sell it by the pound?” Sergio Bianchi’s searing black comedy revolves around a case of money-laundering through a “bridging the digital divide” IT charity.
See my post Consciência.org. Pictured: the Cinelerra editing suite. Click to zoom.

Time will tell whether the emergence of the quasi government is to be viewed as a symptom of decline in our democratic government, or a harbinger of a new, creative management era where the purportedly artificial barriers between the governmental and private sectors are breached as a matter of principle. — Kevin R. Kosar, “The Quasi Government: Hybrid Organizations with Both Government and Private Sector Legal Characteristics” (Congressional Research Service, February 13, 2007)

PF prende 6 acusados de fraudar concessão de título de filantropia: The top national police blotter story in Brazil today is an alleged Internet diploma mill that was “busted up” by the Brazilian G-men, but the inside pages of the Estadão also have this account of “Operation Pharisee.”

I clip it because of an ongoing interest in “quangos,” “GONGOs,” “BINGOs” and the like — the “quasigovernmental sector” and “third sector” and “philanthropreneurism” and all that jazz.

I read this in the back of a cab on my way back from Perdizes, where I underwent emergency oral surgery this morning.

Always a delight, emergency oral surgery, and here in Brazil, they don’t hand out the codeine like M&M candies the way they do back home, either. Probably wise of them, but damn it, I deserve some freaking codeine after what I’ve been through! You know that sensation, as though someone had been attacking the bonesof your face with a threepenny nail gun?

As a consolation, my wife suggested that if I needed to eat something soft, we should hit the lunch buffet at Arabesco, nearby. Excellent idea. Arab food on a hot, steamy day: so cooling.

On “that’s not a conflict of interest, that’s an innovation synergy!” when it comes to plundering the public coffers for fun and profit, see also

The subject is a frequent subject of bitter invective from the angriest man in Brazil, filmmaker Sérgio Bianchi, whose Crónicamente Inviável we just saw on the boob tube the other night. The New York Times‘ Elvis Mitchell reviewed in 2000:

Sérgio Bianchi’s “Chronically Unfeasible” is a blunt and mordant fist in the ribs of Brazil’s middle class. Close in spirit to Luis Buñuel’s attacks on the bourgeoisie’s infatuated gazes at itself, the film has a big heart that’s both in the right place and on its sleeve.

It’s a big heart with teeth, wearing a shirt or sweatshirt of some kind.

A Polícia Federal desmontou ontem o que considera uma quadrilha especializada em negociar certificados de isenção de impostos e contribuições sociais com empresas privadas que atuava dentro do Conselho Nacional de Assistência Social (CNAS). Na chamada Operação Fariseu, a PF prendeu o ex-presidente do CNAS Carlos Ajur Cardoso Costa e outros cinco suspeitos. Entre os principais crimes atribuídos ao grupo estão corrupção ativa e passiva, advocacia administrativa, tráfico de influência e formação de quadrilha.

The Federal Police yesterday broke up what it considers to be a criminal organization, specialized in selling certificates of tax-exempt status to private firms, that acted inside the National Council on Social Assistance (CNAS). In so-called Operation Pharisee, the [Tupi feds] arrested former CNAS president Carlos Ajur Cardoso Costa and another five suspects. Among the principal crimes of which the group is accused are active and passive corruption, [“administrative advocacy,”] influence-peddling and criminal conspiracy.

Cardoso Costa represented a federation of organizations for assistance to the blind, I believe. Sworn in during March 2002.

“Administrative advocacy” is one I will have to look up.

Good old DireitoNet, as always, gives you a basic overview:

É um dos crimes praticados por funcionário público contra a adminstração em geral. Consiste em patrocinar, direta ou indiretamente, interesse privado perante a administração pública, valendo-se da qualidade de funcionário. A pena prevista é de detenção, de 1 a 3 meses, ou multa. Se o interesse for ilegítimo, a pena será de detenção, de 3 meses a 1 ano, além da multa. Veja Art. 321 do Código Penal.

This is a crime committed by a public employee against [good governance] in general and consists of sponsoring a private interest, whether directly or indirectly, with business before the public administration, taking advantage of one’s status as a public employer. …

In other words, something very similar to the sort of Jack Abramoffery sometimes practiced back home.

Investigado desde 2004 pela força-tarefa que combate crimes previdenciários, o esquema teria dado prejuízo de cerca de R$ 4 bilhões – R$ 1 bilhão por ano – aos cofres públicos em contribuições não recolhidas.

Investigated by the task force on crimes against the social security system, the scheme allegedly cost the public treasury some R$4 billion — R$1 billion per year — in taxes not collected.

O esquema consistiria na concessão fraudulenta de Certificados de Entidade Beneficente e de Assistência Social (Cebas) a associações sem requisitos de filantropia. Pelo menos 60 entidades das áreas de saúde, educação e assistência social são investigadas por suspeita de envolvimento nas fraudes.

The scheme allegedly consisted of fraudulent concessions of [a tax-exemption certification known as a CEBAS] to assocations not meeting the criteria for being considered a philanthropy. At least 60 organizations in the area of health care, education and social assistance are under investigation for involvement in the scheme.

As 10 mil entidades filantrópicas cadastradas pelo governo deixam de repassar cerca de R$ 5 bilhões ao ano apenas à Previdência Social, segundo informou o ministro Luiz Marinho, presente à entrevista em que a Polícia Federal divulgou a operação. O total do rombo ainda será apurado na segunda fase do inquérito, conforme explicou a superintendente da PF, delegada Valkíria Teixeira de Andrade.

The 10,000 philanthropic organizations registered with the government get nearly R$5 billion in tax breaks in social security contributions alone, according to social security minister Marinho, who was present at the press conference at which the [feds] announced the arrests. The total losses to the system will be established in the second phase of the inquiry, said federal police superintendent Valkíria Teixeira de Andrade.

You do not want a senior policewoman named Valkíria mad at you.

PRISÕES

Arrests

Entre os presos estão os conselheiros Márcio José da Silva, representante da União Brasileira de Cegos, e Euclides da Silva Machado, da Obra Social Santa Isabel, apontados como cúmplices. Foram também detidos os advogados Ricardo Vianna Rocha e Luiz Dutra, além da secretária deste, Andréa Schran. Ao longo do dia foram cumpridos 27 mandados de busca e apreensão no Distrito Federal e em seis Estados (Rio de Janeiro, Rio Grande do Sul, Paraíba, Pernambuco, Espírito Santo e Santa Catarina).

Among those arrested were CNAS commissioners da Silva, representing the Brazilian Union of Blind Persons, and da Silva Machado, representing Santa Isabel Social Work, who were charged as accomplices. Also detained were attorneys Ricardo Vianna Rocha and Luiz Dutra, as well as the secretary of the latter, Andréa Schran. During the day, 27 search warrants were served in the federal district and six states (Rio, Rio Grande do Sul, Paraíba, Pernambuco, Espírito Santo and Santa Catarina.)

Investigado como suposto cúmplice da quadrilha, o atual presidente do CNAS, Sílvio Iung, sofreu buscas em seu gabinete, situado no Ministério da Previdência, e em sua residência. Iung teve a prisão pedida pela PF, mas ela foi negada pela Justiça, que considerou as provas contra ele insuficientes. As prisões foram efetuadas em Brasília, Rio, Rio Grande do Sul e Santa Catarina.

Investigated as an alleged accomplice of the group, current CNAS president Iung had his office in the Ministry of Social Security search, as well as his residence. The feds requested his arrest but the request was denied by a court on grounds of insufficient evidence. …

Jung was sworn in in 2006 and is associated with a network of Lutheran charities.

O CNAS é composto por 18 membros – 9 de entidades civis e 9 do governo. Pelo menos até agora, as investigações não detectaram o envolvimento de servidores públicos nas irregularidades. O ex-presidente do conselho Carlos Ajur e Luiz Dutra são apontados como cabeças do esquema. Valendo-se de seu conhecimento e poder de influência na área, segundo a PF, Ajur teria aliciado conselheiros e pessoas ligadas à concessão do benefício.

The CNAS has 18 members — 9 from civil-society organizations and 9 from the government. Investigations have yet to detect the involvement of public servants in the irregularities. Former CNAS president Ajur [Cardoso Costa] and Luiz Dutra are pointed to as the leaders of the scheme. The PF says Ajur [lured] commissioners and related parties into granting tax-exempt status.

Dutra seria o articulador de empresas e entidades interessadas em pagar propina para obter a certificação, mesmo sem preencher requisitos de filantropia – entre os quais está a destinação de cota de gratuidade para atendimento à população carente.

Dutra was allegedly the point man for companies and organizations interested in paying a bribe in exchange for certification, even though they did not meet the requirements for charity organizations — among which is the requirement to destine a certain percentage of funds to serving the needy.

De acordo com a PF, conselheiros ligados ao esquema combinavam a aprovação de pedidos de certificados e só submetiam os processos escolhidos ao plenário quando tinham certeza de que determinados colegas, propensos a pedir sua análise, não compareceriam à reunião.

The PF says that commisioners involved in the scheme colluded to approve the applications and only sent selected applications to the full commission for a vote when they were certain that certain colleagues who might ask to analyze the petition first were not going to be present.

O advogado de Luiz Dutra, Eduardo Antônio da Silva, classificou a ação da PF de “sensacionalista” e disse que o mandado não continha os motivos que incriminariam seu cliente. “Trata-se de um réu primário, com um belo histórico ligado a instituições beneficentes, preso sem sequer saber o porquê”, criticou.

Dutra’s lawyer, a Mr. da Silva, called the federal action “sensationalist” and said the warrant did not state evidence sufficient to incriminate his client.” “This is a first-time defendant, with a beautiful history of ties to charity organizations, arrested without knowing way,” he said.

None of these da Silvas are relatives of President “Squid” da Silva. Da Silvas are thick upon the ground, like Joneses and Smiths.

O Estado tentou ouvir em Vitória (ES) o advogado de Carlos Ajur, mas ele não foi encontrado. Advogados do escritório de Ricardo Vianna Rocha informaram por telefone que não iriam se pronunciar sobre o assunto. O Estado não conseguiu contato com advogados de Márcio José da Silva, Andréa Schrane Euclides da Silva Machado.

The Estadão tried to talk to everybody’s lawyers, but did not manage to reach any who had anything to say.

COLABORARAM MARCO BRITTO, ESPECIAL PARA O ESTADO, e FABIANA CIMIERI

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