Feds investigate Lula’s allies for ventilator purchases

bahia governor feds ventilator embezzlement
Bahia Governor Rui Costa. Photo: Shutterstock

The Federal Police launched an operation on Tuesday to investigate alleged embezzlement schemes in the purchase of 300 ventilators by a consortium of northeastern states in 2020, when the country faced its first peak of Covid infections. On the list of people under investigation are Bahia Governor Rui Costa, an ally of former President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva’s, and Mr. Costa’s chief of staff. 

Marshals say the consortium paid BRL 49 million (USD 9.8 million) in advance for the ventilators but never got the equipment from suppliers.

Supporters of President Jair Bolsonaro used the operation as a way to hammer home the head of state’s views regarding the country’s pandemic response. While the Senate spent six months investigating how the federal government dealt with the coronavirus, Mr. Bolsonaro said state governors were the ones misusing public funds — and where probes should be focused.“

Have people who spent their time defending the ‘Circus Committee’ and who didn’t want to hear about [malfeasance] in ventilator purchases by northeastern states — which were NEVER delivered — said anything about today’s operation yet?” former Labor Minister Onyx Lorenzoni, who is expected to run for the Rio Grande do Sul governor’s office, said on Twitter.