Brazil Ex-President Gets Nearly 9 Years In Jail For Corruption

(FILES) Brazilian senator and former president (1990-1992), Fernando Collor de Mello, speaks during the impeachment vote against Brazil’s suspended President Dilma Rousseff, at the Senate in Brasilia, on August 31, 2016. – Brazilian former President Fernando Collor de Mello (1990-1992) was sentenced on Wednesday May 31, 2023 by the Supreme Court to eight years and ten months in prison for corruption, in an investigation derived from the Lava Jato mega-cause. (Photo by ANDRESSA ANHOLETE / AFP)


As a result of the country’s extensive Car Wash bribery probe, Brazil’s Supreme Court sentenced former president Fernando Collor de Mello to eight years and ten months in jail for corruption on Wednesday.

Collor had been found guilty by the supreme court of accepting bribes of 20 million reais ($4 million) while serving as a senator from 2010 to 2014 in exchange for securing contracts for a construction company with a Petrobras subsidiary.

Collor, 73, who presided over Brazil from 1990 to 1992, was already a tarnished name in Brazilian politics. He was the first democratically elected leader of the nation following the military dictatorship that ruled from 1964 to 1985, and he left office in order to avoid being impeached due to suspicions of corruption.

Earlier this month, Supreme Court’s justices had found him guilty of corruption and money laundering in the Petrobas case in an eight-to-two ruling.

The lead judge on the case, Edson Fachin, had recommended a sentence of 33 years.

The facts in the trial are “extremely serious” and “portray the nefarious misuse of public functions for personal and patrimonial promotion,” Fachin said on Wednesday.

In his vote, Fachin said “the then-senator used his political-partisan influence to promote appointments to the board of directors” of Petrobas subsidiary Distribuidora “and create facilities for the establishment of contracts,” according to the court’s official website.

The money laundering was carried out through more than 40 deposits in accounts in Collor’s name, and in 65 accounts of companies owned by him.

His defense denies the accusations.

Fall from grace 

Collor’s political star shone bright during his triumph in the 1989 elections at just 40 years old, against Brazil’s current president, Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva.

With a nonconformist, jovial image, Collor was elected as a social and political reformer who promised to crack down on absenteeism by high-salaried public officials.

A former national karate champion, he capitalized on his image as a successful athlete.

However, after only two years in office, thousands of people flocked to the streets to demand his ouster, and Congress started the impeachment process as a result of corruption allegations.

Lula was sentenced to a year and a half in prison and was barred from running in the 2018 election as a result of the Car Wash investigation’s bribery verdict.

But Lula’s sentence was later overturned, allowing the leftist leader to enter and win the 2016 presidential election.

The taskforce that oversaw the thorough investigation into allegations of bribery between Petrobras and Brazil’s political establishment was established in 2014 and formally disbanded in 2021.

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