During a debate at the Federation of Industries of São Paulo (Fiesp), on August 9, former president Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, candidate for the Presidency of the Republic by PT , accused the former head of the Lava Jato task force Deltan Dallagnol of destroying the petrochemical company Braskem, owned by the Odebrecht group. “I dreamed that Brazil had the third largest petrochemical industry in the world and I wanted Braskem to be that great company. Lava Jato appeared to destroy Braskem. In who’s name? From a brat named Dallagnol, who filled your heads with lies, who managed to create a world of lies”, declared Lula.
Investigated by the Lava Jato operation, in May 2019, Braskem signed a leniency agreement with the Federal Attorney General’s Office (AGU) and the Federal Comptroller General’s Office (CGU), committing to if it returns BRL 2,54 billion to the federal government. “The amounts to be reimbursed by the company involve payments of damages, illicit enrichment and fines within the scope of fraudulent contracts involving federal public resources and the enactment of normative acts produced from payments of undue advantages”, according to the AGU.
At the time, Braskem had already deposited R$ 1,33 billion, referring to an agreement concluded in 2009 with the Federal Public Ministry, which included Swiss and American authorities, in the total amount of R$ 3.1 billion – R$ 2.2 billion for Brazil. The new commitment signed on 2019 by the two control bodies included the first in the part related to payments due to Brazilian coffers. That is, the company would still need to pay BRL 1,54 billion (corrected by the Selic rate) to the country , in six annual installments, between 2020 and 2025. Of the total to be returned by Brasken, R$ 2 billion will be destined to the Federal Government and approximately R$ 800 million, to Petrobras.
Considered the “crown jewel” of the Odebrecht group (currently Novonor) and responsible for half of its revenue at the time of the investigations, the Braskem petrochemical industry was directly benefited by the actions of the Lula’s administrations, according to plea bargains by two former presidents of the company, Emílio Odebrecht and Pedro Novis, and former executive Alexandrino de Alencar, within the scope of Lava Jato.
“To say that Lava Jato destroyed a company is to blame the policeman who found the victim’s body and not the criminal who killed her. The blame for the destruction of companies falls on the politicians and parties that led the biggest corruption scandal in Brazilian history. What Lava Jato did was to discover, prove and punish criminals who wear the clothes of politicians and associate themselves with criminals who dress up as businessmen, who took care of an enterprise that was not in the interest of society, but of their own. pocket and the perpetuation of its power”, defends Deltan Dallagnol.
According to the former head of the Lava Jato task force, in addition to the agreement with Odebrecht and Braskem “involves one of the biggest returns of resources in the history, not of Brazil, but of the world”, the denunciations of “only one of these companies implied 415 politicians from 26 different parties”. “The agreement revealed evidence of corruption by authorities in 12 different countries and the laundering of of money in ten other countries, placing Brazil in the leadership of global corruption, something that should be a reason for shame, not pride”, says Dallagnol. “What they’re doing is like that husband who morally harasses his wife and still blames her. They are doubly trying to victimize Brazilian society. They violate it when they steal and they want to say that society is to blame for the situation, an absurdity”, he adds.
A Gazeta do Povo contacted Braskem, but did not receive a response at the time of writing this report. At the time of the leniency agreement with the MPF, the company declared that it “recognises its responsibility for the acts of its former members and agents and regrets any past conduct” and guaranteed to be “implementing various initiatives to prevent past actions from happening again.” in the future”. Braskem also agreed to undergo external and independent compliance monitoring, for a period of up to three years (which was fulfilled), with a commitment to improve its compliance and anti-corruption program and to “deepen the broad measures remediation measures already adopted.”
“We have overcome this phase and are now going to focus our focus on the future. We are implementing more robust practices, policies and processes throughout our company, in order to improve our governance and compliance system. Braskem has solid financial conditions and will continue with its growth and internationalization strategy, through business practices guided by ethics”, said Fernando Musa, president of Braskem in December 2016.
How is Braskem doing today
With 20 years of existence, Braskem defines itself on its website as “the largest producer of thermoplastic resins in the Americas and the largest producer of polypropylene in the United States”. In a balance sheet published last week, the company states that it closed the quarter with a net loss of R$ 1.4 billion (due to the impact of the exchange rate variation and the increase in provisions to pay indemnities for residents of the capital of Alagoas, whose neighborhoods suffered sinking as a result of mining activity, according to the Geological Survey of Brazil). Year-to-date, the Company recorded net income of R$2.5 billion.
According to the note, Braskem’s cash position “guarantees coverage of maturities of debt in the next 66 months, even not considering the available international revolving credit line in the amount of US$ 1 billion , with maturity until 2026. Net revenue for the quarter was R$ 26, 4 billion.”
Although Lula accused Lava Jato of destroying Braskem, the Attorney General’s Office emphasized at the time of the leniency that “the agreements allow the preservation of the companies and the continuity of their activities, including to generate values necessary for the reparation of illicit acts. In addition, the agreements establish mechanisms designed to ensure the adequacy and effectiveness of the companies’ integrity practices, preventing the occurrence of new illicit acts and privileging to the maximum degree ethics and transparency in the conduct of their business.”
Recall the case
, Emílio Odebrecht stated in his statement that “payments to electoral campaigns (…) contributed (…) to the decisions that both President Lula and other members of the PT staff took during his administration, which coincided with our interests and were fundamental for the growth and consolidation of Braskem.”
Born in 2020 , from the merger of Copene, OPP, Trikem, Proppet, Nitrocarbono and Polialden, the company began to take shape ten years earlier, when the Odebrecht and Mariani groups bought the shares that Econômico Empreendimentos, an arm of the Bahian bank, held in Copene (Companhia Petroquímica do Nordeste).
The “enormous resistance of Petrobras” to the privatization of the petrochemical sector, as Alexandrino Alencar pointed out, in the award-winning report, led executives from Odebrecht looking for Lula, favorite to succeed Fernando Henrique Cardoso in the elections of 2002. The deal, according to Lava Jato investigations, was to support the presidential campaign, “understanding that would have a more open position for [privatização da] petrochemicals”, according to whistleblower Pedro Novis. “[Uma vez no governo, o então ministro da Fazenda, Antônio] Palocci recognized the company as one of the great donors and supporters of the PT and the mandates of President Lula, which has assured us during all these years a differentiated and preferential treatment”, he revealed.
The plea bargains of Odebrecht executives narrate some situations in which Lula would have put Braskem’s interests ahead of those of Petrobras. “Evidently taking into account our position as campaign financer, it was decided by President Lula that from now on, matters relating to the petrochemical sector would be matters of the government, and not interna corporis (of Petrobras). They would have to be previously approved by Dilma, and any strategic decision would be preceded by a prior dialogue with Braskem”, narrated Novis.
“The significant payments made under the pretext of a contribution from campaign to Lula’s two candidacies (in 2002 and 2006) were fundamental for Petrobras’ attempts to curb Braskem’s growth from failing, and for Braskem to be able to consolidate the Brazilian petrochemical sector, allowing the company to become a petrochemical company capable of competing in any market in the world”, added the whistleblower.
According to the information given by Marcelo Odebrecht, heir to the group, in 2002, the then Minister of Finance, Guido Mantega, would have asked him for R$ 26 millions as a contribution to Dilma Rousseff’s presidential campaign, in exchange for the creation of the so-called Refis da Crise. The MP 800 allowed the installment of Braskem’s tax debt, which would reach R$ 4 billion at the time. In a statement to the Superior Electoral Court about the PT campaign in 2014, Mantega classified Odebrecht’s statements as “liars” and “a piece of fiction”.
In October of last year, the former president of Braskem José Carlos Grubisich was sentenced by the Federal Court of Brooklyn to 20 months in prison in the United States for participating in a bribery scheme involving Petrobras employees, investigated by Lava Jato. In addition to the arrest, the executive will have to pay a fine in the amount of US$ 1 million and had US$ 2.2 million in assets confiscated by the American justice. Months earlier, Grubisich pleaded guilty to American justice, admitting the diversion of U$ 250 million from the company, for the payment of bribes to public officials and political parties in Brazil in order to “guarantee” the interests of the company.