“Scabrous”, “contradictory”, “demolition” were some of the adjectives used by senators to qualify the testimony of this Wednesday (25) in the CPI of the Pandemic. The deponent was Roberto Pereira Ramos Júnior, director-president of FIB Bank — a company presented as credit guarantor of Preda Medimentos in the unsuccessful purchase of the Indian vaccine Covaxin.
Senator Randolfe Rodrigues (Rede-AP), vice president of the CPI, stated that he was “by far the most contradictory testimony of this commission”. Senator Renan Calheiros (MDB-AL), rapporteur, described the testimony as “scabrous” and recalled that the business was paralyzed thanks to the CPI. Senator Eliziane Gama (Cidadania-MA) said that no other testimony was “charged with so many irregularities”.
Senator Jorginho Mello (PL-SC) described the company’s actions as a “coup”, “swindle” and “picking”, but praised the government for not closing the deal. Marcos Rogério (DEM-RO) also praised the federal government for not buying Covaxin.
Despite its name, FIB Bank is not a bank or financial institution. The CPI’s questioning focused on the company’s lack of credentials to guarantee a deal in the order of R$ 1.6 billion with the Ministry of Health, given the various possible illegalities in its constitution and operation.
— The worst thing is that it puts the name of a bank and it isn’t even a bank! The fake news starts there! — the president of the CPI, senator Omar Aziz (PSD-AM) was indignant.
The role of the lawyer Marcos Tolentino, appointed as the true owner of the FIB Bank and linked to the government leader in the Chamber of Deputies, Ricardo Barros (PP-PR), was also asked about. Barros’ name was mentioned in vaccine negotiations with the Brazilian government suspected of irregularities. Roberto Pereira limited himself to saying that Tolentino is the lawyer of Ricardo Benetti, owner of Pico do Juazeiro, one of the current partners of FIB Bank.
At various times, Roberto Pereira claimed not to know people involved in FIB Bank’s business (even Francisco Maximiano, owner of Necessidade), or not having the necessary documents to answer the reporter’s questions, forwarding the requests to his company’s commercial and legal departments . When asked about his remuneration, the deponent asked to provide the information in writing after the meeting.
— We are facing a situation that is the face of the Bolsonaro government — evaluated Humberto Costa (PT-PE). “Everything is done with carelessness, without any concern for public affairs, done by people and companies that are not reputable,” he said.
Renan Calheiros even considered that the CPI arrest the deponent, but Omar Aziz considered that perjury would not be grounds for imprisonment.
Roberto Pereira acknowledged that FIB Bank was born as shelf company. Senator Alessandro Vieira (Cidadania-SE) explained that the term in English (which means “shelf company”) designates companies incorporated in a notary’s office only to be resold to those who want to own a legal entity without facing bureaucracy.
— The shelf company is a mechanism to deceive customers and give the impression that it is a solid company, to participate, for example, in a bidding process — explained Alessandro.
Simone Tebet (MDB-MS) gave a detailed exposition of FIB Bank’s “tricks” over the years, starting with the use of “oranges” as partners.
“Covaxin’s contract was fraudulent. Parts were missing, [havia] amounts to be paid in tax haven by those who were not part of the signing of the contract, and guarantee from a bank that was not a bank – said Simone. — The Ministry of Health is equally or more responsible for this.
One of the most surprising moments of the meeting was the reproduction of an audio by Geraldo Rodrigues Machado, a resident of the municipality of Pão de Açúcar in Alagoas. In the audio, Machado said that, when trying to finance a motorcycle in 2015, he discovered that he was a partner in the company.
— See, Brazil? – Renan Calheiros exulted, using an expression repeated in several moments of the meeting.
The value of the appraisal of a land in Curitiba included in the company’s share capital was also surprising – R$7 billion.
“We get a lot of messages. One message I got is that Buckingham Palace in England costs $1.5 billion. So, the land you have can buy Buckingham Palace,” compared Omar Aziz.
An application by Randolfe Rodrigues was approved, summoning Ivanildo Gonçalves da Silva, motorcycle courier for VTCLog, a logistics company that serves the Ministry of Health in the distribution of vaccines and supplies throughout the country, to testify. Since 2018 Ivanildo has made cash withdrawals for VTCLog totaling more than R$4 million.
The rapporteur took stock of the four months of the CPI. He stressed that, with the start of investigations, the federal government changed its stance in relation to the coronavirus pandemic.
— Thanks to the light posed by the CPI, the government canceled Covaxin’s fraudulent contract; fired servants asking for bribes; canceled negotiations with middlemen; bought vaccines; stopped bragging about early treatment fraud; made influencers and fake news sites delete posts that aggravated the pandemic; and even made the president’s denial son get vaccinated and post on social media! — he stated, referring to senator Flávio Bolsonaro (Patriota-RJ).
Renan Calheiros announced that three more deponents will move from being witnesses to being investigated by the CPI: Roberto Dias, former director of Logistics at the Ministry of Health; Francisco Maximiano, owner of the company Needs Medications; and Emanuel Catori, partner at Belcher Farmacêutica.
Renan also confirmed that he must deliver the final report in the second half of September.
Agência Senado (Reproduction authorized upon citation of Agência Senado)