Governor Carlos Massa Jr. of Paraná, better known as Ratinho Jr., was caught in a wiretap operation offering to assist a politician under investigation for corruption, according to a source familiar with the probe.
The wiretap captured Celso Pozzobom — suspended from his duties as mayor of the city of Umuarama — telling Ratinho Jr. that he knew the governor was “stirring things up” to help his case. Two people identified as the state’s Infrastructure and Development Secretaries are also mentioned in the conversation, which occurred on October 25 last year.
Mr. Pozzobom, who belongs to Ratinho Jr.’s former political party and remains an ally of his administration, is suspected of embezzling BRL 19 million (USD 3.4 million) in municipal funds, allegedly used to build himself a vacation home in the interior of Paraná state. He is under investigation by state prosecutors. Ratinho Jr., however, is not under investigation.
Impeachment proceedings against Mr. Pozzobom have stalled due to lawmakers’ inaction and multiple court decisions — which investigators suspect could well be linked to Governor Ratinho Jr. “stirring things up” to help out his ally.
The state government of Paraná commented on this story on Wednesday morning, saying that the conversations in question constituted “a customary phone call from a state governor to a suspended mayor.”
“As a republican, it is up to [Ratinho Jr.] to deal with all mayors and ex-mayors in Paraná’s municipality. Furthermore, the good relationship between the governor and Mayor Celso Pozzobom is public knowledge, in the same way that the governor holds cordial relationships with several politicians in the state.”
This article was amended on January 12, 2022, at 10:53, to include the statement from the Paraná state government.