It has been getting harder and harder to provide grounds for the charges filed by the Federal Attorney’s Office regarding the existence of systemic corruption at Petrobras which former President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva was allegedly aware of. In this regard, Fábio Barbosa’s testimony given today (06/12) to the Judge of the 13th Federal Criminal Court of Curitiba was a turning point. He was a member of Petrobras’s Board of Directors and Audit Committee, and a financial expert for Sarbanes Oxley (SOX), from 2003 to 2011 on such Committee. The SOX is an American law from 2002 which provides for the verification and control procedures for the company’s financial aspects established at Petrobras, considering that the company has American Depositary Receipts negotiated at The New York Stock Exchange.

Barbosa’s testimony proves the existence of a complex and sophisticated corporate structure with systems and procedures for making decisions, such as permanent Audit Committees, a Board of Directors, Complaints Office, and an Audit Board. The company is also subject to external audits. As a board member, he declares he was never aware of any unlawfulness regarding the 8 contracts which are the object of the complaint. Barbosa was elected member of the Board of Directors by the minority shareholders group and emphasized his independent performance in the position.

He also stated that, according to Petrobras’s structure, the Board of Directors is responsible for the election of officers by evaluating names brought by the company’s CEO. He said there was no reason to reject names such as Paulo Roberto Costa, Nestor Cerveró, and Renato Duque, considering their professional résumés and their long time in the company, to which point there had been no knowledge of any compromising situation.

Since the Regional Federal Court of the 4th Region acknowledged that Lula’s defense was denied a fair opportunity to be heard during the hearing on 06/05, Emílio Odebrecht testified again today. He restated that his meetings with Lula followed the same pattern of those with Fernando Henrique Cardoso and other former Brazilian Presidents. The goal of such meetings was to discuss Brazil’s interests regarding such strategic field like oil and natural gas.

Emílio, one of the main Odebrecht informants, made it clear that he was aware of neither any detail regarding the contracts chosen by the Federal Attorney’s Office to file charges against Lula, nor any connection between these contracts and the alleged property acquired for Lula Institute. His testimony reinforces the testimonies heard on 06/05, when Emilio himself, along with other executives of the group, acknowledged that Lula has never had possession or ownership of such property.

Colonel Geraldo Corrêa de Lyra Júnior, who was the former President’s aide-de-camp for 5 years being responsible for keeping the former President’s schedules in Brazil and abroad, has also testified declaring he has never witnessed any unlawful practice or request for undue advantages by Lula, emphasizing that everything he heard during the time he held office is “a source of pride” for the Country.

Cristiano Zanin Martins