Justice withholds secret budget funds: an unprecedented decision that paralyzes 20 million Brazilian reals

Justice withholds secret budget funds: an unprecedented decision that paralyzes 20 million Brazilian reals

The The Federal Court of Maranhão made an unprecedented decision in the country: it identified the first judicial block of funds from the secret budget on suspicion of irregularities. The measure, which cripples 20.7 million riyals, comes more than a year after the press published the first complaints about the scheme created by the government of President Jair Bolsonaro to buy parliamentary support in Congress. The court’s decision stems from evidence of fraud in the Unified Health System (SUS) by municipalities in Maranhão, which falsified health data to provide legal coverage to parliamentarians who sent them money from the secret budget. The Biao The scheme was revealed in a report in the July issue, under the title Unlimited spree.

The blockade affects the coffers of four municipalities in Maranhão: Miranda do Norte (9.3 million reais), Afonso Cunha (6.6 million), Bella Vista do Maranhão (2.7 million) and São Francisco do Maranhão (2 million). The four provinces are part of the group of cities in Maranhão that have increased the number of their SUS services from year to year. Over-billing raises the ceiling on the health money MPs and senators can send to municipalities. Thus, parliamentarians, using redundant ceilings as a basis, send substantive modifications to city halls and still have the advantage of anonymity.

The decision does not prevent all transfers of amendments, but rather the surplus between what the municipalities receive and what they should have received had they not visited the numbers. There were four judicial decisions, all for the same purpose and all requested by the prosecutors from the Federal Public Prosecution. The aim is to avoid harming the public treasury, in the roasting of excess sums which have been inconsistently transferred by Representatives and Senators to city councils. Regarding Miranda do Norte, Mayor Angelica Bonfim (PL), mother of Federal MP Junior Lourenco (PL-MA), the judge noted “a clear and suspicious discrepancy in principle” in the numbers of services reported between 2020 and 2021. “There is evidence of that data […] Inconsistent with the number of health services effectively provided in that period.”

Prosecutors of the MPF in Maranhão opened investigations in the administrative and criminal areas based on two sources: a report by Biao he is Analysis of the Comptroller General of the Union (CGU), which supports the suspicion of fraud in dozens of municipalities in Maranhão. “From the analysis of hospital and outpatient production reported by the municipalities of Maranhão, it was possible to obtain signs of a sudden increase from one exercise to another, focusing on actions that, for the most part, could not be traced through the data of the individuals who served, however, were not There is a significant increase in the installation of the municipal hospital or in the number of health professionals assigned,” says the analysis of the CGU, carried out by the Comptroller General of the Federation in the state of Maranhão.

The Biao He showed that the city of Baume-Lugar, which does not even have a hospital, reported that its healthcare services increased 1,300% from year to year.. The municipality of Governador Luiz Rocha SUS reported that its services jumped 12,500%. At Luís Domingues, the jump was about 3900%. In Igarape Grande, Consultations were so inflated that they averaged 34 per inhabitant, a pattern that even beats the world record set by South Korea, with an annual average of 17 consultations per inhabitant. Santa Quitéria do Maranhão has recorded more HIV tests than the city of São Paulo. The quarryer said he performed so many tooth extractions that he gave an average of nineteen teeth to each individual. It is the most toothless city in Brazil.

aRepresentatives and senators have three ways to send money to their bases. Individual modifications, whereby each member of Parliament can send up to 17.6 million R$ annually, with the correct indication of their identity and the destination of the funds. Bench modifications, where each state seat, together, can send up to OMR 213 million, and author and curator information is also public. And the most controversial of all: the amendments of the General Rapporteur, which in 2022 totaled 16.5 billion riyals and are known as “Secret budget” because it is distributed without the knowledge of the author. Nor are the values ​​of the General Rapporteur’s amendments the same for every parliamentarian. Varies according to the taste of the scheme coordinates. In the case of the Chamber, the senior chair is Representative Arthur Lyra (PP-AL), the Speaker of the House.

According to CGU, “In the overall analysis, the aggravating factor is that about 62% of modifications received [pelas prefeituras maranhenses] Without any naming of the deputy sent, according to what appears in the transfer regulations of the Ministry of Health.” One of the applicants for the transfers was Deputy Junior Lourenço, who sent more than 10 million to Miranda do Norte, which, until the previous year, only had the operational capacity to spend 1 million reais. A member of PL, Bolsonaro’s party, Lourenço is running for re-election and supports Senator Weverton Rocha (PDT-MA) for the state government, who in turn is the godfather of Afonso Cunha’s mayor, Arquimedes Bacelar (PDT), whose funds are subject to shutdown. The mayor of São Francisco do Maranhão, Adelbarto Santos (PCdoB), supports Representative Josemar Maranhão Zinho (PL-MA), who was investigated in an embezzlement case in Maranhão. Another ally of Maranhuzinho and Lourenço is the mayor of Bella Vista do Maranhão, Augusto Filho (PL).

In November last year, Minister Rosa Weber, of the Federal Supreme Court, had decided to suspend budget execution for transfers from the secret budget. But on this occasion, it was not analyzed the presence of irregularities in the transfers, but the failure to comply with the constitutional principles of transparency and fairness in the distribution of public resources, which highlights the lack of technical standards. The following month, the minister allowed the payments to resume. The Supreme Court has not yet implemented the final ruling in the proceedings requesting to declare secret budget amendments unconstitutional.

Other transfers from the secret budget were already blocked due to suspected irregularities, but by oversight bodies – it never happened, as it has now, by court order. The four decisions that froze the movement of funds in Maranhão even predicted the Federal Court of Audit. TCU has a similar ban request on its agenda, due to suspected fraud in the SUS, but the matter has yet to be judged. The Rapporteur of the case is Minister Vital do Rigo.

Secret budget scandals are piling up. The Public Prosecutor’s Office, under the leadership of Augusto Arras, has not yet submitted any application to the court to investigate the wrongdoing in the party. In the case of Maranhão, only QR 20.7 million was blocked thanks to the work of the Federal Public Prosecution Service in the first place, as well as the State Public Prosecution and the Court of Auditors of the State of Maranhão. “The MPF/MA, with the support of the CGU, MPMA and MPContas, is taking all necessary measures to protect public assets, such as, when possible, a judicial request to prohibit irregular amounts, as well as investigating those responsible for these crimes” Biao Prosecutor Juraci Guimarães, representative of the MPF’s Anti-Corruption Chamber in Maranhão.

Indifference from the Ministry of Health also helped spread fraud in the SUS through the secret budget. “The fragility of the control of the Ministry of Health made it possible for the municipalities of Maranhão to introduce fictitious measures into the information systems of the SUS,” said Prosecutor Guimarães, stressing that public resources did not lead to any improvement in the health network of Maranhão residents. In addition to the lack of oversight, the Ministry of Health system is ineffective in combating fraud. One problem is that the Ministry of Health does not require municipalities to identify the treated patient, simply enter the procedure code (ultrasound examination, for example) and the quantity.

The secret budget planner with dummy consultations is a direct link between parliamentarians in Brasilia and municipal councils in Maranhão. The suspicion, under investigation by the Federal Police in other cases, is that MPs are taking bribes in exchange for amendments in favor of city councils. Part of the money – which in some cases can be up to 30% of the adjustment – becomes what bribery brokers active in Congress call a “return”. These are the cases where the political class in Brasilia knows they will explode one day, they just don’t know when.

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