Accounts Court tell Car Wash prosecutors to repay public purse

Accounts Court Car Wash prosecutors
Former prosecutor Deltan Dallagnol will run for Congress this year. Photo: Fabio Rodrigues Pozzebom/ABr

A panel at the Federal Accounts Court unanimously decided to convict three prosecutors involved with Operation Car Wash for damages to the public purse. 

Former Prosecutor General Rodrigo Janot — who dealt with indictments against suspects in federal office — Deltan Dallagnol — who conducted investigations within the scope of the operation — and João Vicente Romão may have to pay back BRL 2.83 million (USD 552,000) for irregular spending on allowances and bonuses.

Judge Bruno Dantas said Mr. Dallagnol used hefty daily expense allowances to lure prosecutors into joining the anti-corruption task force. These allowances were only meant to be paid during work trips, but Mr. Dallagnol even offered them to prosecutors who were not traveling.

The ruling now goes to the Superior Electoral Court, as Mr. Dallagnol is a candidate for Congress. His bid may be impeached if the conviction is upheld.

He is currently one of the most popular candidates for a seat in the House representing his home state of Paraná. Official records show he is the candidate who raised the second-highest amount from online fundraising, at over BRL 200,000.

Operation Car Wash investigated some of the most powerful politicians and businessmen in the country over allegations of corruption, money laundering, and malfeasance. 

It mustered enormous popular support for targeting high-profile politicians and billionaires who in the past had avoided arrest and prosecution. But scrutiny over the operation’s methods revealed a series of abuses.

In 2019, website The Intercept Brasil published a series of articles based on leaked private messages between the prosecutors and the former Federal Judge Sergio Moro (who oversaw cases) showing that the judge in many ways colluded with prosecutors to obtain convictions.

A large part of the convictions were quashed, including those against Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva — who was barred from running for president in 2018 due to his convictions, but today leads the presidential race. 

The case is yet another setback for Operation Car Wash, which has already had its works wrapped by the current prosecutor general.