Brazil’s center-right former president Fernando Caller de Mello (1990-1992) was sentenced Wednesday by Brazil’s Supreme Court to eight years and ten months in prison for corruption in the “Lavage-Express” scandal involving construction companies.
The first Brazilian president to be elected by direct universal suffrage since the military dictatorship, Mr. Kaler, 73, was accused of taking 20 million reais (about 5.5 million Canadian dollars) in bribes from 2010 to 2014 when he was a senator.
According to the lawsuit, about 40 payments were made to facilitate the signing of contracts “irregularly” between the construction company and a subsidiary of the public oil company Petrobras.
On Thursday, eight of the ten judges of Brazil’s Supreme Court ruled in favor of his conviction.
The judge reporting on the case, Edson Fauchin, noted that the former president had “indicated his political influence to facilitate the signing of the agreements” and imposed a prison sentence of up to 33 years.
The facts “proved” during the trial are “extremely serious” and “portray harmful misuse of public functions for personal and traditional enrichment purposes”, Mr. Fauchin declared.
His side has denied all the allegations.
The investigation was opened in the context of the “Lavage-Express” scandal that has rocked the entire Brazilian political spectrum since 2014.
In 1989, the election at the age of 40 of Fernando Collor de Mello, who ran in the second round against the current left-wing president, Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, inspired great optimism.
But Brazilians were soon disillusioned: after two years in power, he resigned after Congress opened impeachment proceedings against him for idle corruption.
He still managed to return to politics in 2006, being elected as a senator for Alacoas, a poor state in the northeast. He was elected from it until the end of last year.
At the end of his second eight-year term in the Upper House, Mr. Color openly supported far-right former President Jair Bolsonaro.