Numbers of the week: Oct. 5, 2019

. Oct 05, 2019
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2,074 votes

The Federal Police brought criminal charges

against Jair Bolsonaro&#8217;s Tourism Minister Marcelo Álvaro Antônio, suspected of being involved in a <a href="">dummy candidate scheme</a> within the president&#8217;s Social Liberal Party (PSL). In the 2018 election campaign, the Minas Gerais chapter of the PSL (of which Mr. Álvaro Antônio was the head) transferred BRL 279,000 to four women running for state representative. At least BRL 85,000 of these funds were paid to companies linked to Mr. Álvaro Antônio, among them printers and PR firms. These four candidates ended up with a combined total of 2,074 votes, suggesting they were never genuine candidates in the first place. Spokespeople for President Jair Bolsonaro say Mr. Álvaro Antônio will not be relieved of his cabinet seat.</p> <hr class="wp-block-separator"/> <h2>USD 1.3 billion&nbsp;</h2> <p>That’s the amount that Operation Car Wash investigators say was laundered through accounts at Brazil&#8217;s five biggest banks: Itaú, Banco do Brasil, Bradesco, Caixa and Santander. Prosecutors are now attempting to determine whether failures in these banks’ control systems could lead to major financial institutions being held criminally liable for money laundering. Among the recurring criticisms of Op. Car Wash is that it has never gone after banks, despite massive amounts of money being laundered in many of the operation&#8217;s criminal cases, as <a href="">The Brazilian Report wrote</a> on Thursday. The first time Car Wash pursued any financial institution was in May this year, when it arrested former executives of middle-market Banco Paulista.&nbsp;</p> <hr class="wp-block-separator"/> <h2>200 meters&nbsp;</h2> <p>After former Prosecutor General Rodrigo Janot declared he once planned to murder Supreme Court Justice Gilmar Mendes, Mr. Janot was given a restraining order and cannot be any closer than 200 meters from any of the 11 Supreme Court justices. The political debate in Brazil went into a frenzy after Mr. Janot&#8217;s declarations, which served as a preview for his new &#8220;tell-all&#8221; book, &#8220;Nothing Less Than Everything.&#8221; Deputy Prosecutor General Moacir Guimarães Filho sent a letter to the National Council of Prosecution Services requesting the agency recall the book, calling it “harmful to society.&#8221; In response to the former prosecutor’s revelations, Gilmar Mendes was also emphatic: “I recommend he seek psychiatric help,” he said. On Monday night, Mr. Mendes will appear on weekly TV interview show <em>Roda Viva</em>.</p> <hr class="wp-block-separator"/> <h2>4 arrests&nbsp;</h2> <p>Rio de Janeiro civil police arrested <a href="">another four people</a> in the latest stage of investigations into the assassination of left-wing Rio City Councilor Marielle Franco and her driver, Anderson Gomes, in March 2018. Among the new targets, law enforcement brought in people connected to militiaman and retired military policeman Ronnie Lessa, who is under arrest for having pulled the trigger in the planned hit. Among the crimes charged to the four individuals are obstruction of justice, gun possession, and criminal association. Ms. Franco and Mr. Gomes were murdered over a year and a half ago, but police have yet to determine <a href="">who ordered</a> the assassination.&nbsp;</p> <hr class="wp-block-separator"/> <h2>BRL 800 billion</h2> <p>Brazil&#8217;s Senate has made alterations to the pension reform proposal, which will result in cuts to the overall savings created by the system overhaul. Senators withdrew changes to salary bonuses, allowing those who earn up to twice the minimum wage to receive the benefit. The version of the reform approved by the House foresaw restricting these bonuses to a smaller portion of the workforce, which would have created savings of BRL 76.4 billion. Now, the expected savings from the reform bill total just over BRL 800 billion. Since January, <strong>The Brazilian Report</strong> has published several <a href="">articles</a> on the subject of pension reform.&nbsp;</p> <hr class="wp-block-separator"/> <h2>50 percent less gas</h2> <p>In 2019, according to a report from Brazil’s Mining and Energy Ministry, Brazil bought 50 percent less Bolivian gas in comparison to four years ago. Some 15.2 million cubic meters of natural gas from Bolivia crossed the border this year, against the 32.03 million for the same period in 2015. However, around 27 percent of natural gas consumed in Brazil comes from its Andean neighbors. These changes in Brazil–Bolivia relations come in <a href="">turbulent times</a>, as Presidents Jair Bolsonaro and Evo Morales are diametrically opposed to one another in ideological terms, and the agreement involving a 3,150-kilometer pipeline connecting the two countries is up for renewal in December. Meanwhile, Petrobras has announced it will dismantle its monopoly of the oil distribution chain in Brazil.</p> <hr class="wp-block-separator"/> <h2>7.3 percent</h2> <p>Bradesco and Itaú Unibanco, two of Brazil’s major banks, have <a href="">announced</a> cut interest rates on their real estate credit lines. Itaú had announced that their minimum interest rate would fall to 7.45 percent, but competitor Bradesco undercut them further, announcing on Tuesday that it would lower its rates to just 7.3 percent. Previously Itáu practiced minimum rates of 8.1 percent, while Bradesco employed 8.2 percent. Bradesco says that the new rates may be hired on loans with terms of up to 360 months. “The client can finance up to 80 percent of the value of the property and the maximum commitment of net income on the value of installments is 30 percent.”

Lucas Berti

Lucas Berti covers international affairs—specializing Latin American politics and markets. He has been published by Opera Mundi, Revista VIP, and The Intercept Brasil, among others.

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