The Brazilian Supreme Court on Wednesday sentenced centre-right former Brazilian President Fernando Collor de Melo (1990-1992) to eight years and ten months in prison for corruption, in connection with the “Lavage-Express” scandal involving construction companies.
Brazil’s first president elected by direct universal suffrage after the military dictatorship, Mr Collor, 73, is accused of taking 20 million reais (about $5.5 million Canadian) in bribes from 2010 to 2014, when he was a senator.
According to the prosecution, about 40 payments were made to facilitate the “irregular” signing of contracts between a construction company and a subsidiary of the state oil company Petrobras.
On Thursday, eight out of 10 judges in Brazil’s Supreme Court ruled in favor of convicting him.
The reporting judge for the case, Edson Fashin, ruled that the former president asserted his “political influence to facilitate the signing of contracts” and named a sentence of up to 33 years in prison.
Mr. Fashin declared on Wednesday, on the last day of the trial, that the facts “established” during the investigation were “extremely serious” and “conceived as harmful misappropriation of public functions for purposes of personal and patrimonial enrichment”.
His defense has denied all charges against him.
The investigation was opened in the context of the “Lavage-Express” scandal, which has rocked the entire Brazilian political spectrum since 2014.
In 1989, the elections of Fernando Collor de Mello, then only 40 years old, who in the second round opposed incumbent left-wing President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, aroused enormous hope.
But Brazilians soon became disillusioned: just two years after coming to power, he resigned after seeing Congress open impeachment proceedings against him for passive corruption.
He managed to return to politics in 2006, when he was elected senator from the impoverished state of Alagoas in the north-east of the country. Elected them until the end of last year.
At the end of his second eight-year term in the Senate, Mr. Collor publicly supported former far-right President Jair Bolsonaro.