Brazilian center-right ex-president Fernando Collor de Mello (1990-1992) was sentenced on Wednesday to eight years and ten months in prison for corruption by Brazil’s Supreme Court, in connection with the “Lavage-express” scandal involving construction companies.
First Brazilian head of state elected by direct universal suffrage after the military dictatorship, Mr. Collor, 73, is accused of having received 20 million reais (about 5.5 million Canadian dollars) in bribes from 2010 to 2014, when he was a senator.
According to the prosecution, around 40 payments were made to facilitate “irregularly” the signing of contracts between a construction company and a subsidiary of the public oil company Petrobras.
On Thursday, eight of the ten judges of Brazil’s Supreme Court had ruled in favor of his conviction.
The reporting judge for the case, Edson Fachin, ruled that the ex-president had asserted “his political influence to facilitate the signing of contracts” and had mentioned a sentence of up to 33 years in prison.
The facts “proven” during the investigation are “extremely serious” and “depict the harmful misappropriation of public functions for the purposes of personal and patrimonial enrichment”, declared Mr. Fachin on Wednesday, on the last day of the trial.
His defense had refuted all charges.
The investigation was opened in the context of the “Lavage-express” scandal, which shook the entire Brazilian political spectrum from 2014.
In 1989, the election at just 40 years old of Fernando Collor de Mello, opposed in the second round to the current left-wing president Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, had aroused immense hope.
But the Brazilians were quickly disillusioned: barely two years after coming to power, he resigned after seeing Congress open impeachment proceedings against him for passive corruption.
He still managed to return to politics in 2006, being elected senator of Alagoas, a poor state in the northeast. He was elected from it until the end of last year.
At the end of his second eight-year term in the Upper House, Mr. Collor openly supported far-right ex-President Jair Bolsonaro.
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