BRASILIA – The offensive by the Attorney General, Augusto Aras, in the task force of Car wash in Curitiba throws uncertainties about the fate of the operation that dismantled a billion-dollar corruption scheme, altered the correlation of national political forces and brought important leaders of the country, such as the ex-president, to jail Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva. Until September, Aras will decide the future of the group coordinated by the prosecutor Deltan Dallagnol, but he has already made it clear that he intends to impose a “course correction” with the adoption of a new research model, without “personalist” methods or “black boxes”.
After the government’s political interference in Federal police, no Coaf and in the IRS, Lava Jato turned the ball around, the target of an “alignment of interests” behind the scenes that includes Aras, the president Jair Bolsonaro, a wing of the Federal Supreme Court (STF) and parties of varied ideological spectra, including figures from the Centrão, bolsonaristas and the opposition. Even PT parliamentarians praised Aras’ stance against Lava Jato, the executioner of the party’s leadership.
President’s allies fear an eventual candidacy for Sérgio Moro to the Planalto Palace in 2022, after the former federal judge left the government making accusations against Bolsonaro, which led to the opening of an inquiry in the STF. “It is necessary to safeguard the external independence of the Public Ministry and the internal independence of prosecutors who are not subordinate to the PGR. I see the conflict with regret. The results of the Lava Jato operation speak for themselves and should be valued by the Attorney General’s Office, ”Moro told Estadão.
Members of the Federal Public Ministry (MPF) from different wings assess that the Aras movements expose their intentions to concentrate power at the top of the PGR, in a threat to the functional independence of the prosecutors. They also point out that Aras – who came to office at the nomination of Bolsonaro, without participating in an internal class vote – has no leadership or dialogue with peers and tries to win for one of the two vacancies that will be opened for the Supreme Court by 2021.
On September 10, the deadline for renewing the Lava Jato task force in Paraná, a group composed of 14 public prosecutors, expires. Renovation means keeping the entire structure available today, not only from prosecutors, but also support staff, who work in the areas of legal advice, analysis, research and information technology. In Rio, the deadline is December 8.
The task force in São Paulo has no block designations, that is, it has different deadlines for each of its members. The group noted that the number of members who work exclusively with Lava Jato may drop by half as of September. “Correcting directions does not mean reducing the commitment to fight corruption,” said Aras, in a live with a group of lawyers on Tuesday. “Lavajatismo will pass.”
The 5th MPF Coordination and Review Chamber has already asked for the task forces to be extended for at least six months. Aras has not yet decided on the case, but last week he launched a test of a new task force model, opening a consultation so that all MPF members can collaborate with the investigations. For him, the current format is sold out and costs a lot.
If the bidding is successful, the exclusive dedication model is threatened. “Life requires courage and courage I do not lack. I am not afraid to displease, ”said Aras on Friday during a tense meeting of the MPF Superior Council (CSMPF), marked by the reading of a letter criticizing four councilors for the work of the attorney general. “A discredited, unstable and weakened prosecutor’s office only serves the interests of those who stand outside the law,” wrote deputy attorneys Nicolao Dino, Luiza Frischeinsen, José Adonis and Nívio de Freitas.
Another point raised by the PGR summit against the “República de Curitiba” is the “secrets”, information available in the hands of the prosecutors, which could be advancing on authorities with jurisdiction. At the request of Aras, the president of the STF, Dias Toffoli, determined in July that the task forces of Lava Jato do Paraná, Rio and São Paulo would share with the PGR “all databases” that subsidize ongoing investigations.
After receiving the data, Aras said that if the entire MP has 40 terabytes, only Curitiba has 350 terabytes and 38 thousand people with deposited data. “Nobody knows how they were chosen, what the criteria were, and one cannot imagine that an institutional unit is made with secrets,” he said. According to Aras’ interlocutors, the data was not stored on official MPF channels.
On another front that threatens Lava Jato, the National Council of the MP – chaired by Aras – must discuss on the 18th the request of Senator Kátia Abreu (PP-TO) to remove Deltan from the coordination of Lava Jato. Council members heard by Estadão privately assess that there is a majority to punish the prosecutor of the Republic.
For the political scientist Renato Perissinotto, from the Federal University of Paraná (UFPR), the problem with Aras’ offensive lies in timing. “With the departure of Moro, transformed into Bolsonaro’s potential rival in the 2022 election, the PGR investigation has the clear objective of undermining the judge’s popularity by revealing abuses that the operation committed, in addition to imposing limits on investigations that could harm the president and his friends at Centrão, ”he said.