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Brazil: Corruption scandals from 1999 to 2001 involving elected officials and their associates in Sao Paulo; arrests, investigations, outcomes; media involvement in exposing corruption, specifically, which media

Publisher Canada: Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada
Author Research Directorate, Immigration and Refugee Board, Canada
Publication Date 14 March 2002
Citation / Document Symbol BRA38339.E
Reference 5
Cite as Canada: Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada, Brazil: Corruption scandals from 1999 to 2001 involving elected officials and their associates in Sao Paulo; arrests, investigations, outcomes; media involvement in exposing corruption, specifically, which media, 14 March 2002, BRA38339.E, available at: [accessed 28 May 2016]
DisclaimerThis is not a UNHCR publication. UNHCR is not responsible for, nor does it necessarily endorse, its content. Any views expressed are solely those of the author or publisher and do not necessarily reflect those of UNHCR, the United Nations or its Member States.

According to InfoBrazil, there have been several scandals of corruption involving municipal officials and their associates in Sao Paulo since 1998 (30 Dec. 2000 - 5 Jan. 2001; 28 Jul. - 3 Aug. 2000; 26 May - 1 Jun. 2000; 28 Apr. - 4 May 2000; 17-23 Mar. 2000; 6-12 Aug. 1999)

An alleged bribery scandal led to the arrest of a city inspector in mid- 1998 (ibid. 6-12 Aug. 1999). "The deal was captured with a hidden camera, and shown on Globo's most watched prime time national newscast" (ibid.). This initial incident led to the approval of an inquest into "allegations of widespread corruption" involving council members (ibid.), which eventually caused the removal from office of councillors Vicente Viscome and Maeli Vergniano (ibid. 28 Apr. - 4 May 2000), and the conviction of dozens of city inspectors (ibid. 26 May - 1 June 2000).

On 25 April 2000, InfoBrazil reported that councillor Maria Helena was facing "[t]hree counts of breach of parliamentary decorum, [ ...] including attempted extortion and misappropriation of funds - all charges stem from the ongoing municipal corruption scandal involving inspectors, councillors, members of the executive and the business community ... " (ibid. 28 Apr. - 4 May 2000). TV Globo's investigation determined that the corruption scheme had yielded over $550 million in one year (ibid. 28 Jul. - 3 Aug. 2000).

Another scandal stemmed from public accusations by then mayor Celso Pitta's ex-wife Nicéia and involved "members of City Council, her former husband and mayor Celso Pitta and several of his top aides, his predecessor Paulo Maluf [ ... ,] Maluf's son Flavio, plus some of the former mayor's top political and business associates" (ibid. 17-23 Mar. 2000). Mayor Pitta continued to serve as mayor while appeals were heard for his conviction on several counts of wrongdoing and mismanagement and misappropriation of public funds (ibid. 28 Apr. - 4 May 2000). Attempts at impeachment failed within city council (BBC News 24 Mar. 2000), and Pitta served his entire term until the end of 2000 (InfoBrazil 30 Dec. 2000 - 5 Jan. 2001).

Both the inspector scandal (ibid. 6-12 Aug. 1999) and the Pitta scandal (ibid. 17-23 Mar. 2000; OneWorld 31 Mar. 2000) were initially made public by Globo Media. InfoBrazil further stated that the mayor dismissed the allegations as a personal vendetta against him by Globo for past conflicts (17-23 Mar. 2000).

This Response was prepared after researching publicly accessible information currently available to the Research Directorate within time constraints. This Response is not, and does not purport to be, conclusive as to the merit of any particular claim to refugee status or asylum. Please find below the list of additional sources consulted in researching this Information Request.


BBC News. 24 March 2000. Stephen Cviic. "Brazil Mayor Told to Resign." [Accessed 12 Mar.2002]

InfoBrazil. 30 December 2000 - 5 January 2001. Adhemar Altieri. "2001: Political Showdown Begins." [Accessed 12 Mar. 2002]

_____. 28 July - 3 August 2000. Adhemar Altieri. "Exposés Galore: What About Punishment?" [Accessed 12 Mar. 2002]

_____. 26 May - 1 June 2000. Adhemar Altieri. "Mayor Removed, Punishment Must Follow." [Accessed 12 Mar. 2002]

_____. 28 April - 4 May 2000. Adhemar Altieri. "Secret Ballots, Predictable Results." [Accessed 12 Mar. 2002]

_____. 17-23 March 2000. Adhemar Altieri. "Overwhelming Corruption: Is There a Limit?" [Accessed 12 Mar. 2002]

_____. 6-12 August 1999. Adhemar Altieri. "National Objectives, Municipal Obstacles." [Accessed 12 Mar. 2002]

OneWorld. 31 March 2000. News From Brazil. [Accessed 12 Mar. 2002]

Additional Sources Consulted

IRB Databases

Latin American Regional Reports: Brazil Report [London].

Latin American Weekly Reports

World News Connection (WNC)

Internet sites including:

Folha de Sao Paulo

Internet search engines:



Copyright notice: This document is published with the permission of the copyright holder and producer Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada (IRB). The original version of this document may be found on the offical website of the IRB at Documents earlier than 2003 may be found only on Refworld.

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