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The lawyers who could put the Bolsonaros in hot water

. May 20, 2020
A couple of Rio de Janeiro lawyers could be the link between Senator Flávio Bolsonaro and an illegal leak to shield the president's family from law enforcement. Senator Flávio Bolsonaro. Photo: ABr

Victor Granado Alves and his wife, Mariana Teixeira Frassetto Granado, were two ordinary middle-class Rio de Janeiro lawyers — completely anonymous to the top level of the city’s legal community. But on May 16, the couple suddenly gained nationwide fame when businessman Paulo Marinho — a former ally of President Bolsonaro and his family — gave an explosive interview hinting at the existence of corruption schemes and illegal leaks of police operations, all happening under the auspices of Senator Flávio Bolsonaro, the president’s eldest son.

Mr. Marinho, who was elected in 2018 as Flávio’s substitute, told newspaper Folha de S.Paulo that a detective tipped off the senator that he would soon be targeted by the Federal Police. Marshals postponed the operation until after the runoff stage of the 2018 election, to avoid compromising Jair Bolsonaro’s chances at the presidency. In the meantime, the eldest Bolsonaro son was told to “make arrangements” — read, destroy evidence. This warning, according to Mr. Marinho, was passed on through lawyer Victor Granado Alves.

</p> <p>Flávio Bolsonaro is under investigation for a rudimentary —&nbsp;and frankly, quite common — scheme in Brazilian politics. While working as a state lawmaker in Rio de Janeiro, he allegedly <a href="https://brazilian.report/power/2019/01/18/flavio-bolsonaro-scandal-president/">skimmed a percentage</a> off the top of his staffers&#8217; salaries. The plot thickened, however, when it was reported that the corruption racket was run by Fabrício Queiroz, a former police officer with <a href="https://brazilian.report/power/2020/02/12/bolsonaro-adriano-nobrega-militia-organized-crime/">links to paramilitary mafias in Rio de Janeiro</a>. Mr. Queiroz is also a personal friend of President Bolsonaro&#8217;s and Flávio&#8217;s former driver.</p> <p>The Granados, meanwhile, have links to Flávio Bolsonaro that go beyond a simple attorney-client relationship. Mr. Granado has worked for the senator since 2017 —&nbsp;and his wife is a staffer at his Senate office, earning a monthly salary of nearly BRL 23,000 — or 23 times the national minimum wage.</p> <figure class="wp-block-embed-twitter aligncenter wp-block-embed is-type-rich is-provider-twitter"><div class="wp-block-embed__wrapper"> <blockquote class="twitter-tweet" data-width="550" data-dnt="true"><p lang="pt" dir="ltr">Crimes contra a honra de Bolsonaro não ficarão impunes!<br>Passando mais algumas ações ao escritório do brilhante advogado Victor Granado! <a href="https://t.co/VA0nH7gLW3">pic.twitter.com/VA0nH7gLW3</a></p>&mdash; Flavio Bolsonaro (@FlavioBolsonaro) <a href="https://twitter.com/FlavioBolsonaro/status/839978991100518401?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">March 9, 2017</a></blockquote><script async src="https://platform.twitter.com/widgets.js" charset="utf-8"></script> </div></figure> <h2>All the president&#8217;s lawyers</h2> <p>Mr. Granado has represented the president in several lawsuits, including one in which Mr. Bolsonaro was accused of racism after disparaging remarks about <em><a href="https://brazilian.report/society/2019/06/24/brazil-biggest-quilombo-georeferencing/">quilombola</a> </em>communities. Before defending the president in court, the lawyer worked in the Rio de Janeiro state legislature in 2011 at the office of the Party of the Republic, now the Liberal Party.</p> <p>He then bounced around several offices, working as a political assistant, until getting a job with Flávio Bolsonaro. In 2017, he began working for Flávio&#8217;s former political party, the Social Liberal Party, before being dismissed in 2020. In 2019, he signed a BRL 500,000 contract to provide legal services to the Social Liberal Party&#8217;s headquarters in Rio de Janeiro, of which Flávio Bolsonaro was the chairman. This agreement was revoked early this year, soon after the Bolsonaro family abandoned the party.&nbsp;</p> <p>The BRL 500,000 originated from the so-called partisan fund, a public pool of resources used to fund all Brazil&#8217;s political parties. The contract itself is not illegal, but its amount, according to electoral law experts, is far too high for a low-ranked attorney such as Mr. Granado. In comparison, Jair Bolsonaro&#8217;s lawyer <a href="https://brazilian.report/power/2020/01/12/bolsonaro-lawyer-workers-party-courts-political-narrative/">Karina Kufa</a> — highly respected in her field — received BRL 50,000 a month from the party. A high-level source within Rio de Janeiro&#8217;s electoral courts told <strong>The Brazilian Report</strong> that the value is too high, and said that this case has already raised questions among the state&#8217;s electoral authorities.&nbsp;</p> <figure class="wp-block-image size-large"><img src="https://brazilian.report/wp-content/uploads/2020/05/IMG-20200520-WA0005-1024x485.jpg" alt="contract The lawyers who could put the Bolsonaros in hot water" class="wp-image-39864" srcset="https://brazilian.report/wp-content/uploads/2020/05/IMG-20200520-WA0005-1024x485.jpg 1024w, https://brazilian.report/wp-content/uploads/2020/05/IMG-20200520-WA0005-300x142.jpg 300w, https://brazilian.report/wp-content/uploads/2020/05/IMG-20200520-WA0005-768x364.jpg 768w, https://brazilian.report/wp-content/uploads/2020/05/IMG-20200520-WA0005-610x289.jpg 610w, https://brazilian.report/wp-content/uploads/2020/05/IMG-20200520-WA0005.jpg 1140w" sizes="(max-width: 1024px) 100vw, 1024px" /><figcaption>Facsimile of the contract between the Social Liberal Party and Victor Granado&#8217;s law firm</figcaption></figure> <p>Another curious aspect of the cases is that the electoral court&#8217;s system does not include any mention of legal representation for the Social Liberal Party. Mr. Granado&#8217;s contract with the party foresaw court representation, legal consultancy, and the restoration of the legal status of the party&#8217;s municipal branches in Rio de Janeiro. “During Flávio Bolsonaro&#8217;s term, only five of the 87 municipal branches in Rio de Janeiro had been restored to good standing, which is why the contract was terminated by the party,” said the Social Liberal Party, in a press statement.</p> <p>Meanwhile, Mariana Granado currently earns almost BRL 23,000 a month to work as a political assistant in Flávio Bolsonaro&#8217;s Senate office. But a source close to the senator&#8217;s office told <strong>The Brazilian Report</strong> under anonymity said this job had never been carried out. Flávio&#8217;s office was approached to clarify Ms. Granado&#8217;s role, but did not respond.</p> <p>What is clear about Ms. Granado&#8217;s work is her job representing Jair and Flávio Bolsonaro in lawsuits, and her involvement in collecting signatures to create the Bolsonaro family&#8217;s new party, the <a href="https://brazilian.report/power/2019/11/22/jair-bolsonaro-new-party-reshuffles-brazilian-politics/">Alliance for Brazil</a>. According to administrative law specialist Rafael Valim, lawyers that work in congressional offices may practice law, but not in all types of cases. &#8220;There is a conflict of interest. Even if one of the advisor&#8217;s activities is practicing law, he/she cannot represent the member of Congress who appointed him/her,&#8221; said Mr. Valim.</p> <h2>Investigating the leak</h2> <p>In his revealing interview, Paulo Marinho stated that the police operation against Flávio Bolsonaro was delayed until after the 2018 election, to avoid harming Jair Bolsonaro&#8217;s bid for president. The news rocked the Federal Police, but perhaps not as much as expected. Two high ranking federal police officers told <strong>The Brazilian Report</strong> that the news of the leak just added more pressure to an investigation that had already been in progress since 2019, when the leak was initially discovered.&nbsp;</p> <p>The initial suspect of having tipped off Flávio Bolsonaro was Federal Police detective Alexandre Ramagem, who at the end of April had been nominated by the president to the role of Federal Police Chief, before his appointment was <a href="https://brazilian.report/power/2020/04/24/sergio-moro-resigns-justice-minister-and-goes-out-swinging/">blocked by the Supreme Court</a>. Mr. Ramagem was the detective in charge of a police operation that arrested many Rio de Janeiro state lawmakers and found evidence that resulted in another probe, this time against Jair and Flávio Bolsonaro.&nbsp;</p> <p>However, at the time of the leak, Mr. Ramagem was already working on President Bolsonaro&#8217;s security team.

 
Brenno Grillo

The Brazilian Report's correspondent in Brasília, Brenno has worked as a journalist since 2012, specializing in coverage related to law and the justice system. He has worked for O Estado de S. Paulo, Portal Brasil, ConJur, and has experience in political campaigns.

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