Sergio Moro

The Brazilian news cycle has been dominated in recent weeks by a series of reports by The Intercept Brasil based off leaked phone messages between Justice Minister Sergio Moro and prosecutors of the Operation Car Wash task force. The conversations date back to the time Mr. Moro was working as a federal judge in Curitiba, overseeing Car Wash cases in that state.

A new batch of leaks have been released today, as a result of a partnership between The Intercept Brasil and weekly magazine Veja—and they are arguably the most damning of all the material released so far.

While the most recent publications had been vaguer—with less direct involvement of Sergio Moro himself and coming as something of an anticlimax for Brazil’s scoop-hungry Twitterati—today’s leaks are very compromising, showing further instances of Mr. Moro having broken his responsibility of being an impartial adjudicator while presiding over Operation Car Wash.

</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">The leaks show Sergio Moro colluding with the task force, opining on plea-bargain negotiations, and even suggesting prosecutors include certain pieces of evidence in their cases against Car Wash defendants. All of these practices are illegal and could lead to his disqualification from concluded Car Wash cases, forcing processes to begin again from square one.</span></p> <p><script src="https://www.buzzsprout.com/299876/1269271-64-you-can-t-spell-car-wash-without-leaks.js?player=small" type="text/javascript" charset="utf-8"></script></p> <h2>The significance of <i>Veja</i></h2> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">What is crucial about this batch of leaks is where the report is coming from. Throughout Operation Car Wash, few media outlets had been as positive toward Sergio Moro than </span><i><span style="font-weight: 400;">Veja</span></i><span style="font-weight: 400;">. Magazine covers regularly treated the former judge as a national hero, and the publication is vehemently pro-Car Wash.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Therefore, reading </span><i><span style="font-weight: 400;">Veja</span></i><span style="font-weight: 400;">, of all people, stating that Mr. Moro &#8220;overstepped his role as a judge,&#8221; &#8220;worked on the side of the prosecution,&#8221; and &#8220;committed wrongdoing,&#8221; is very significant indeed. One of the <a href="https://brazilian.report/opinion/2019/07/05/greenwald-harassment-worrying-press-freedoms/">arguments used to protect the Justice Minister</a> was that </span><i><span style="font-weight: 400;">The Intercept</span></i><span style="font-weight: 400;"> editor Glenn Greenwald had acted as &#8220;a left-wing activist&#8221; as opposed to a journalist; the same claims could never be made about </span><i><span style="font-weight: 400;">Veja</span></i><span style="font-weight: 400;">.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">What&#8217;s more, being yet another journalistic outlet to have access to the Car Wash leaks, </span><i><span style="font-weight: 400;">Veja</span></i><span style="font-weight: 400;"> has helped confirm the veracity of the material obtained by </span><i><span style="font-weight: 400;">The Intercept</span></i><span style="font-weight: 400;">. The magazine attests to the accuracy of the leaks, having checked the messages against correspondence of their own reporters with Car Wash prosecutors. According to </span><i><span style="font-weight: 400;">Veja</span></i><span style="font-weight: 400;">, &#8220;word by word, the messages examined by the team are true and the investigation shows the case is even more severe.&#8221;</span></p> <h2>Suggesting evidence</h2> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">One of the most legally compromising parts of today&#8217;s links concerns a case involving Zwi Skornicki, an engineer who turned informant and confessed to paying bribes to several Petrobras executives in connection with contracts to build oil platforms for the state-owned company.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">In April 2016, the head of the Car Wash task force, Deltan Dallagnol, warns fellow prosecutor Laura Tessler that Sergio Moro had informed him they missed a piece of evidence in their indictment against Mr. Skornicki.</span></p> <p><script>(function(d,s,id){var js,fjs=d.getElementsByTagName(s)[0];if(d.getElementById(id))return;js=d.createElement(s);js.id=id;js.src='https://embed.playbuzz.com/sdk.js';fjs.parentNode.insertBefore(js,fjs);}(document,'script','playbuzz-sdk'));</script></p> <div class="playbuzz" data-id="1a82d736-3e65-4491-8c78-98e91cab1f1c" data-show-share="false" data-show-info="false" data-comments="false"></div> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Under the recommendation of Mr. Moro, Mr. Dallagnol mentions a &#8220;deposit to Musa&#8221; which had been left out of the prosecution&#8217;s case. The following day, the task force included receipts of a USD 80,000 deposit made by Mr. Skornicki to Eduardo Musa, a former Petrobras executive. The indictment was accepted by Mr. Moro minutes later.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">This is clearly irregular behavior, showing that Sergio Moro helped the prosecution strengthen its case, thus harming the chances of the defense and ridiculing the right to a fair trial.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Another leaked conversation (below) shows Mr. Moro chasing up Deltan Dallagnol for the task force&#8217;s statement on a case involving Odebrecht, where prosecutors requested information from Swiss courts concerning the construction company.</span></p> <p><script>(function(d,s,id){var js,fjs=d.getElementsByTagName(s)[0];if(d.getElementById(id))return;js=d.createElement(s);js.id=id;js.src='https://embed.playbuzz.com/sdk.js';fjs.parentNode.insertBefore(js,fjs);}(document,'script','playbuzz-sdk'));</script></p> <div class="playbuzz" data-id="40b68a56-1e05-4455-b6c6-78dadcd2f837" data-show-share="false" data-show-info="false"></div> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">This collusion and assistance apparently worked both ways, with a conversation from December 2015 showing Mr. Dallagnol forwarding decisions from other judges to Mr. Moro, in order to help him &#8220;whenever [he] needs to arrest someone.&#8221;</span></p> <p><script>(function(d,s,id){var js,fjs=d.getElementsByTagName(s)[0];if(d.getElementById(id))return;js=d.createElement(s);js.id=id;js.src='https://embed.playbuzz.com/sdk.js';fjs.parentNode.insertBefore(js,fjs);}(document,'script','playbuzz-sdk'));</script></p> <div class="playbuzz" data-id="51ce272e-be95-493f-a4f0-f2e7bcadb749" data-show-share="false" data-show-info="false"></div> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">After being asked for the prosecution&#8217;s statement on a request to release agriculturalist José Carlos Bumlai &#8220;by tomorrow at midday,&#8221; Deltan Dallagnol sends the judge a series of court decisions which Mr. Moro can use in similar cases, another example of the problematic proximity between the two figures.</span></p> <h2>Moro wanted former speaker quiet</h2> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">The revelation which may cause the biggest repercussion in the public sphere is from a conversation in July 2017, in which Sergio Moro says he is against Eduardo Cunha signing a plea-bargain to turn state&#8217;s evidence. The former House speaker and one of the main power brokers of the impeachment of President Dilma Rousseff, Mr. Cunha was jailed in 2016 for corruption and money laundering.</span></p> <p><script>(function(d,s,id){var js,fjs=d.getElementsByTagName(s)[0];if(d.getElementById(id))return;js=d.createElement(s);js.id=id;js.src='https://embed.playbuzz.com/sdk.js';fjs.parentNode.insertBefore(js,fjs);}(document,'script','playbuzz-sdk'));</script></p> <div class="playbuzz" data-id="634445d1-6339-4cf8-af8b-6f700ca37583" data-show-share="false" data-show-info="false"></div> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">After his arrest, the potential that Eduardo Cunha could decide to talk was seen with much trepidation in the corridors of Brasilia, with the perception that he would bring down everyone with him. Oddly, then, despite being portrayed as a crusader against corruption, Sergio Moro tells Mr. Dallagnol that he is against the idea of Mr. Cunha signing a plea-bargain deal.

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BY Euan Marshall

Euan Marshall is a Scottish journalist living in São Paulo. He is co-author of A to Zico: An Alphabet of Brazilian Football.