Senator Chico Rodrigues (DEM-RR) was spotted by the Federal Police last Wednesday (14) with R $ 33,000 in his underwear. The money was found in the execution of a search and seizure warrant at the parliamentarian’s house during an operation to investigate misuse of health resources.
Since March 2019, Rodrigues served as deputy leader of the Jair Bolsonaro government in the Senate. However, given the repercussion of the investigation, he left the post on Thursday (15). The congressman is also part of the National Congress commission created to monitor the use of public money to fight the pandemic.
See what is known and what remains to be clarified on the following questions:
- What is the investigation in which the senator is involved?
- What are the suspicions against Senator Chico Rodrigues?
- How was the operation that seized the money in the senator’s underwear?
- What is the origin of the money seized from the senator?
- What does Chico Rodrigues say about the suspicions?
- What happened to the senator after he was caught with money in his underwear?
- What is the senator’s relationship with the government of Jair Bolsonaro?
1. What is the investigation in which the senator is involved?
The investigation by the Federal Police and the Comptroller General of the Union (CGU) investigates deviations of around R $ 20 million in parliamentary amendments aimed at combating the pandemic of the new coronavirus in Roraima.
According to the PF, a criminal group formed by politicians, civil servants and businessmen rigged bids to hire certain companies by the State Health Secretariat (Sesau) of Roraima. CGU identified signs of overprice and overpricing in the hiring made by the portfolio in the purchase of items such as Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) and rapid detection tests by Covid-19.
As the senator has a privileged forum, all mandates fulfilled by the PF had to be authorized by the STF. The inquiry is pending confidentiality and is under the report of Minister Luís Roberto Barroso.
The minister indicates that the investigation came from a complaint made by a former employee of the Health Department who organized the scheme and, when he was fired, sought out the Federal Police.
Of the R $ 16 million sent by the Union to Roraima to deal with the pandemic, at least R $ 2.56 million was disbursed above what was necessary in contracts with overprice, says the CGU.
According to Barroso, there was an agreement signed by the group for a certain company to supply the government of Roraima, already during the pandemic, lots of 65% alcohol – a product that is not effective in fighting the coronavirus.
Instead of a new bid, the Health Department made an amendment to the contract signed six years earlier, in 2014 – when Chico Rodrigues was governor of the state.
2. What are the suspicions against Senator Chico Rodrigues?
According to the investigation, there are indications that the senator used his political influence to favor private companies linked to him during the bidding processes carried out in the pandemic. The scheme, according to the PF, was attended by politicians, businessmen and civil servants.
“The Senator personally maintained, via the messaging app, suspicious contacts with the whistleblower responsible for contracts at the state health agency, with indications that he would have exercised his political power to obtain the dismissal and the appointment of State Health Secretaries, to determine the renewal of administrative contracts without bidding and order payments to companies directly or indirectly linked to them, “says a report on the investigation handed over to the Federal Supreme Court (STF).
3. How was the operation that seized the money in the senator’s underwear?
The operation was carried out on October 14 and carried out seven search and seizure warrants at addresses in Boa Vista (RR). The action was only released after it had already been executed. One of the warrants was carried out at Chico Rodrigues’ home.
The PF suspects that the senator put the money in his underwear after the agents arrived. In total, the congressman hid R $ 33,150 in private parts. The amount was found after one of the officers identified “a large, rectangular-shaped volume on the back of the senator’s robes.”
Suspicious, the deputy made the personal search and found R $ 15 thousand. The amount was “inside your underwear, close to your buttocks”.
Senator Chico Rodrigues used the new $ 200 bills to hide the money in his underwear. Image is in low quality because it is a reproduction of a PF document – Photo: Reproduction / PF
Image from PF report shows moment when money was found in Senator Chico Rodrigues’ underwear – Photo: Reproduction / PF
The senator was asked three times if there were still more amounts in kind. In the last of them, with a lot of anger, Chico Rodrigues “reached into his underwear, and pulled out other bundles of money” that totaled R $ 17.9 thousand. The other R $ 250 was apprehended in the last personal search.
In addition to the amount in the underwear, R $ 10,000 and US $ 6,000 were seized in a safe in the senator’s room. The PF also found an unregistered gun and ammunition of various calibres at his home.
4. Where did the money seized from the senator come from?
According to the PF, the senator was unable to explain the origin of the seized values. To the Supreme Court, the corporation said there was evidence of money laundering and that the parliamentarian’s insistent attempts to hide the notes sought to hinder investigations.
However, the Attorney General’s Office (PGR) assessed that it is still not possible to prove the relationship between the amounts seized and the crimes investigated.
5. What does Chico Rodrigues say about the suspicions?
The senator has denied all accusations and claims to be unrelated to any unlawful act. In a note released on Thursday (15), the parliamentarian stated: “I say again, throughout my 30 years of public life, I have dedicated my life to the people of Roraima and Brazil, and I will continue firmly towards the development of my nation”.
“Believing in the truth, I am confident in justice, and I say that soon everything will be clarified and I will prove that I have nothing to do with any illegal act of any kind. I believe in the guidelines that the great leader and President of Brazil, Jair Messias Bolsonaro uses to manage our nation, “he said.
Senadro Chico Rodrigues speaks after flagrant money in his underwear – Photo: Photo: Reproduction / Facebook / Chico Rodrigues
6. What happened to the senator after being caught with money in his underwear?
After the PF operation, Chico Rodrigues’ stay as deputy government leader in the Senate became unsustainable. The senator asked to leave the post and his departure was made official by President Jair Bolsonaro in the early afternoon of Thursday (15). Rodrigues has held the position since March 2019.
The Federal Police and the PGR even asked the Supreme Court to arrest the senator and remove him from office. The PF understood that preventive detention was necessary. The Public Ministry, on the other hand, manifested itself under house arrest with electronic monitoring and the prohibition on Rodrigues from communicating with other investigators.
Barroso rejected both types of imprisonment and defined only a 90-day term of office and a ban on communication between Rodrigues and the investigated. However, the determination made by the minister still needs the approval of the Senate.
The minister made public only the decision that determined the removal of the senator, the inquiry remains confidential. By order of Barroso, the videos of the seizure of the money found in the parliamentarian’s underwear must be kept in the PF safe.
In addition to the determination of the STF minister, political parties filed a representation on the Senate Ethics Council on Friday (16) to revoke the mandate of Chico Rodrigues.
Democrats, Chico Rodrigues’ party, also said that they had determined to the Legal Department of the caption to “closely” follow up the developments of the investigation involving the senator.
“We are attentive to all the details of the investigation and, if there is proof of the practice of illegal acts by the parliamentarian, the National Executive will apply the disciplinary sanctions provided for in the party’s Statute”, said the party.
7. What is the senator’s relationship with the government of Jair Bolsonaro?
In a video that circulates on social networks, President Jair Bolsonaro says to the senator that the two had “almost a stable union”. Bolsonaro’s phrase was a response to the fact that Rodrigues mentioned in the video that they were both friends for more than 20 years in the Chamber of Deputies.
Both Bolsonaro and Rodrigues were federal deputies. The video does not identify the date it was recorded. The image shows Bolsonaro and Rodrigues in an office, with a Brazilian flag and another from the state of São Paulo in the background. The two are sitting side by side.
After the senator was caught with money in his underwear, Bolsonaro said on Thursday that he regrets misuse of health resources. Bolsonaro commented on the case with supporters at the door of the Palace of Alvora and then publicized the conversation on social media.
“Now, the CGU is watching. Our Federal Police are watching and we make decisions. I am sorry for the misuse of resources, it would be good if there were not because after all, when health resources are diverted, innocent people die,” said the president .
Bolsonaro also said that the fact that Rodrigues was deputy leader does not mean that the government does not fight corruption. “Part of the press is accusing me, of the guy being my friend. I put him as deputy leader, as a result I am, and that I don’t have, I don’t fight corruption,” he said.
“Make it very clear. This PF operation from yesterday [quarta], as half of the operations, they are jointly with the CGU, whose minister is Captain Wagner Rosário “, completed the president.
Chico Rodrigues also employs Bolsonaro’s nephew, Leonardo Rodrigues de Jesus, known as Léo Índio in his office. He has a position on a parliamentary advisory committee and, in September, received a gross salary of R $ 22,943. However, on Thursday (15), the official asked for the resignation of the position.