Further details of Education Ministry corruption emerge

Former Education Minister Milton Ribeiro was arrested last week. Photo: Catarina Chaves/MEC
Former Education Minister Milton Ribeiro was arrested last week. Photo: Catarina Chaves/MEC

Days after former Education Minister Milton Ribeiro and Evangelical pastors Arilton Moura and Gilmar Santos were preventatively detained on suspicions of graft, more details are emerging regarding the two preachers’ connections with the Education Ministry, to which they had no formal ties. 

Mssrs. Moura and Santos are suspected of having orchestrated a corruption scheme by allocating education development funds to certain mayors in exchange for kickbacks.

A report presented to the Comptroller General’s Office by the current Education Minister Victor Godoy Veiga says Mr. Ribeiro tried to get Mr. Moura a formal position within the Education Ministry. 

Mr. Moura was offered a position as an advisor in the ministry’s executive secretariat but reportedly turned it down as he considered the salary to be too low. The BRL 10,373.30 (USD 1,982.35) monthly salary he rejected is over eight times the current minimum wage.

That position ended up being given to Luciano de Freitas Musse, a lawyer who often accompanied Mssrs. Moura and Santos in their meetings with education ministry officials. Mr. Musse was also targeted in last week’s police operation.

Meanwhile, the federal police confirmed that there are records of Mr. Moura having stayed 63 times between 2020 and March 2022 at the Grand Bittar hotel in Brasília. On at least 10 of these occasions, Mr. Musse was staying in the same hotel at the same time.

The Grand Bittar hotel is believed to have been used as headquarters by the pastors for their negotiations with mayors. Mr. Santos only stayed once as a guest at the hotel, but he was said to be frequently seen around the lobby and the restaurant.