After months of speculation, President Michel Temer has finally decided to change the Federal Police chief by removing Leandro Daiello and naming Fernando Segóvia. Temer is appointing a man with ties to his own party (PMDB), and who was also vouched for by a group of men currently under investigation.
A lawyer who served the Feds for 22 years, Segóvia doesn’t have the most distinguished of résumés. He was a Federal Police attaché in South Africa and was part of the internal affairs department in the force. However, Segóvia was superintendent of the Federal Police in Maranhão, the home state of former President José Sarney, who reportedly met with Temer on September 17 and lobbied on Segóvia’s behalf.
Temer’s choice panders to his closest allies, who had been pressuring him to change the head of the Federal Police after 7 years under Leandro Daiello. The President had a few options, including the incumbent second-highest-ranked man in the police hierarchy, Rogério Galloro. But the President’s Chief of Staff, Eliseu Padilha (who faces a corruption investigation) began championing Segóvia after the Feds found a money stash belonging to a former member of Temer’s cabinet, Geddel Vieira Lima. The name of the new Federal Police Chief was recommended by Augusto Nardes, the president of the Federal Account Court. Nardes faces a corruption investigation.
But while Segóvia’s choice is welcomed by politicians, the same can’t be said of the Federal Police. In its statement of congratulations to the new chief, the National Association of Federal Detectives (ADPF) said that it doesn’t recognize the process through which the Federal Police chief was chosen. ADPF defends that agents and detectives should have a say in the process of choosing their boss.
Additionally, Folha de S.Paulo reported that Brazil’s Intelligence Agency received a file with damaging information on Segóvia. While the newspaper doesn’t offer any detail concerning the files’ authorship, it suggests that it was provided by organizations representing members of the police.
Even prior to assuming office, Segóvia has been met with skepticism. His lack of experience is partly to blame. But his close ties with PMDB, a party embodying political patronage, has raised some eyebrows. One of his supporters is Senator Romero Jucá, the government’s leader in Congress.
In May 2016, the press published a juicy conversation between Jucá and Sérgio Machado, the former president of Transpetro – a state-run natural gas company. In the dialogue, Jucá supported a “pact” to stop the “bleeding” caused by the investigations of Operation Car Wash. Jucá called for a “great national pact.” A year and a half later, senior PMDB members have been accused of forming a criminal gang led by none other than the President himself.
Investigations working for Operation Car Wash weren’t notified of the change in command. They knew about Segóvia’s nomination through the press.
During his time in Maranhão, Segóvia oversaw Operation Boi Barrica, which investigated suspicious deals involving the powerful Sarney family. However, not one individual under investigation faced trial, as the operation was annulled due to procedural mistakes. Marshals conducted illegal phone interceptions, according to the Superior Justice Tribuna, thereby invalidating the investigation.
A few years ago, Segóvia supported an amendment to the Constitution that stripped prosecutors of their power to conduct investigations. At the time, the bill was seen as a way to give politicians power over probes. After all, the government has more power over the Feds, being able to control better the Federal Police budget and change its chief at will. The Prosecutor General, however, is chosen for a two-year term, during which the President cannot fire him or her.
Michel Temer, the improbable president, has found himself in a rather privileged position. In just a year and a half, he has been able to appoint:
- Two electoral justices, at a time when he faced trial for electoral crimes;
- The Prosecutor General;
- A Supreme Court justice.
That’s not too bad for a President who recently faced two indictment requests.