Rousseff Losing Ground, Accuses Rival of Campaign-Finance Fraud

The Brazilian challenger has been accused of campaign finance fraud.
Leading presidential hopeful Marina Silva stands accused of campaign finance fraud. (Wikimedia)

EspañolWith the presidential election in Brazil less than three weeks away, current President Dilma Rousseff has launched a new offensive aimed at helping her gain ground in the election’s final polls. Rousseff is filing a lawsuit with the Supreme Electoral Tribunal against her main challenger, environmentalist Marina Silva, over alleged campaign finance fraud, according to local news outlets Brasil 247 and Folha de São Paulo.

The president’s complaint centers around the use of the private jet that crashed and killed Eduardo Campos, former presidential candidate for Silva’s Brazilian Socialist Party (PSB).

The plane belonged to Alexandre and Fabricio Andrade, owners of one of the most important ethanol plants in Brazil. On May 15, the Andrade brothers sold the plane to a buyer whose identity remains unknown.

Brazilian law requires presidential candidates report their expenses, whether it’s from donations or private contributions. Electoral law also prohibits bankrupt companies, such as the Andrade brothers’ AF Andrade Enterprises and Holdings, from financing campaigns.

According to Roussef’s Workers’ Party (PT), if Silva traveled on the plane, it would have been a violation of electoral law.

The law also stipulates a maximum of R$50,000 (US$21,450) for contributions from private individuals. The Andrade brothers sold the plane for R$8.5 million (US$3,645,000), a figure that appears on the bill of sale under the name João Lyra de Mello Filho, who says the signature on the document is not his.

Lyra, owner of a finance company in the Recife region, has been cited in the past for money laundering and does not have the financial means to make a purchase of this size, according to Brazilian journalist Mario Cesar Carvalho.

Investigations published in Folha de São Paulo reveal the plane was purchased from AF Andrade using six different bank accounts belonging to shell companies.

“The explanations given by Marina Silva thus far don’t make sense,” said a Rousseff campaign coordinator.

According to Luciano da Souza Godoy, professor at the Getúlio Vargas Foundation School of Law in San Paulo, “A contract without the name of the buyer does not have legal validity.”

The investigation is now in the hands of Brazil’s attorney general.

PSB Responds

Silva’s running mate, Beto Albuquerque, said his party should not be to blame for the jet scandal, but rather the person who purchased the aircraft. Silva claims she was not aware of any illegality involving the use of the jet, and says she supports the investigation being conducted by Brazilian officials.

“The information I had was that [the plane] was a loan, which would be reimbursed by the statutory deadline at the end of the campaign,” said the presidential candidate in her defense. “The reimbursement would have been made by the campaign finance committee,” she added.

Our opponents are terrified by the prospect of losing. We are excited and committed to do everything we can.

Polls Reveal a Virtual Tie

According to the latest survey conducted by the Datafolha Institute, Rousseff leads the presidential race with 36 percent of the vote, compared to Silva’s 33 percent. However, the polls hold a 2 percent margin of error, meaning the two candidates currently find themselves in a dead heat.

If the current projections hold, the election would go to a runoff, where polls indicate Silva would win the election with 47 percent of the vote.

Workers’ Party Attacks Silva’s Campaign Platform

Rousseff aims to extend her narrow lead with a new ad campaign that claims a Silva victory would result in R$1 trillion (US$430 billion) in cuts to health care and education, and the potential loss of a million jobs.

According to the president, Silva plans to reduce the exploration of the pre-salt layer, a natural gas and oil reservoir on the Brazilian coast. Rousseff says, if reelected, she will use the proceeds from this energy production to fund health and education programs.

Translated by Alex Clark-Youngblood.

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