Police in Rio de Janeiro arrested four people, including the state’s former Deputy Health Secretary Gabriell Neves, for taking part in a scheme to embezzle money through emergency contracts for the purchase of ventilators. Mr. Neves had already been put on leave on April 20 due to suspicions of irregularities in contracts amounting to BRL 1 billion. Emergency spending bypasses many of Brazil’s controls in public bidding processes — thus leaving room for corrupt officials to operate.
In São Paulo, Governor João Doria created an Emergency Accountability Office to audit public spending during the Covid-19 pandemic. The goal, according to the government, is to promote transparency, providing external bodies such as the State Prosecution Office and Accounts Court with information regarding public finances. The new agency will be the result of a joint effort between the Executive branch and its health, education, and social development secretariats.