Don Reinfeld, Bow Maker
Transcript of Parliamentary Commission of Inquiry (CPI)
N.B. Even though I had some assistance from two native speakers, this transcript does not meet the standards of a professional translation. I've indicated in the text short sections for which I've given only summaries. Prepared by Don Reinfeld, e-mail: email@example.com
The TV presentation of "[Government] Commissions" was introduced by William Galvao as follows: "….Trafficking in wild animals and plants involves the owners of lumber mills and technical personnel of Ibama. From depositions presented to the members of the commission, the deputies concluded that there is corruption in the entire process of extraction, transport, and authorization by the official organs in charge of investigation. Participating in the hearings are officials of Ibama and Non-Governmental Organizations. Here is the entire proceeding."
This announcement appeared in the Environmental Journal, Brazil (Folha do Meio Ambiente), in November, 2002: "Illegal Trafficing in Animals and Plants in Brazil [the word 'illegal' is not used in this Portuguese text: it is implicit in the word 'trafico']: The Parliamentary Commission of Inquiry - CPI - of the Federal Legislature will investigate [several] accusations: the Reporter of the CPI, Sarney Filho, former Minister of the Environment, will invite representatives of Greenpeace and [several] wood dealers to speak on the illegal extraction of [various] types of wood, especially mahogany. He will also invite the present Minister of the Environment, Jose Carlos Carvalho, the President of Ibama (Brazilian Institute for the Environment and Renewable Natural Resources), Romulo Barreto Mello, and the General Coordinator of RENCTAS (Brazilian National Association for the Prevention of Illegal Trafficking in Wild Animals), Dener Giovanni, to speak on the trafficking in animals and plants. The President of the CPI, Deputy Luiz Ribeiro, announced his intention of creating three sub-commissions: the first to study the consolidation of legislation, the second to investigate the accusations of illegal trafficking in various species of animals, and the third to investigate the accusations of illegal trafficking in various species of plants. At the end of these investigations, within the next four months, these sub-commissions will complete reports which will be evaluated by the CPI."
Composed of 16 members of the Brazilian parliament:
Sarney Filho (PFL-MA); "relator" i.e. responsible for the final report from this CPI, former Minister of the Environment; his father was President of Brazil during the hyperinflation of the 1980's after the sudden death of Tancredo Neves, the first democratically elected president after the period of military dictatorship. His sister was also active in politics but decided not to seek re-election after charges of corruption were brought against her. Fernando Gabeira (PT-RJ), elected 2nd Vice-President of this CPI; Luciano Zica (PT-SP); Ática Lins (PFL-AM); Francisco Rodrigues (PFL-RR); Luiz Ribeiro (PSDB-RJ); president of this CPI, conducted the direct questioning of the witnesses. Francistonio Pinto (PSDB-PA); Ricarte de Freitas (PSDB-MT); Asdrúbal Bentes (PMDB-PA), elected 1st Vice-President of this CPI; Moacir Micheletto (PMDB-PR); Nair Xavier Lobo (PMDB-GO); Augusto Farias (PPB-AL); Augusto Nardes (PPB-RS); Josué Bengtson (PTB-PA); Rubens Bueno (Bloco PDT-PPS-RS) Badu Picanço (Bloco PL-PSL-AP).
Roberto Esmeraldi: President of the Friends of the Earth (Amigos da Terra) for the Brazilian Amazon Region, an NGO
N.B.: All the witnesses are Brazilian citizens except for A.M. Raubitschek The Brazilians typically refer to each other as Seu, or Sr. (Mr.); Dr.(Doctor), a title of respect; Dep(utado), or Member of Congress, plus first name. So, for example, Raubitschek is almost always referred to as Seu Alfred.
Transcript (Brasilia, December 11, 2002)
Opening comments by the President, including his intention to use the federal police, if necessary, to secure the presence of the witness Alfred von Osmaren (sic), from the state of Amazonas, a foreigner who claimed inability to attend the hearing on the basis of a medical excuse from his psychotherapist.
Testimony of Roberto Esmeraldi(allowed by the CPI President to testify first because of his prior commitments)
RE: Thank you for inviting me to testify about matters important to this commission, which were first looked into by Rep. Sarney Filho when he was Minister of the Environment. I'll try to use the shortest time possible to clarify the issues I think are of greatest interest to the deputies. Since 1992 our organization has been monitoring and issuing periodic reports about the situation and modalities of the forestry activity in the Amazon region, starting in the state of Para and then moving to all the other states of the area. In 1994 we produced a new report whose data was incorporated in a study by the Office of Strategic Matters in connection with Ibama. That report in 1996, often cited by the press, confirmed our initial observation that roughly 80% of the wood exploration activity in the region was operating illegally in some part of their processes. In 1998 and 2000 we issued two more reports using an even broader data set, including 50 - 60% of the wood lots in some areas and taking into account the fluctuations in the types of wood they dealt with. All the information we received was kept anonymous because we were more interested in developing good statistics than in carrying out an investigation.
Last year we undertook another survey to learn what dynamics were influencing companies' decisions to choose the legal or the illegal path in exploiting forest products. In a small report we're sending to the relator and president of the CPI, there are indications that a new pattern is emerging, called 'predatory legality', or rather, a change in the dynamics of the supply of primary materials: The less valuable varieties of wood are left for the smaller producers to acquire legally at very low prices, while the larger ones operate 'legally' in select niches involving the most valuable species which allow the aggregation of greater wealth, where a larger percentage of the cost can go to corruption [and still leave a profit for the dealer. DR]. We estimated that last year in 18 different municipalities in central and south Para, about 50% of the cost per log would go to the suppliers - farmers etc., - and 10 to 12 reais per cubic meter, about 30 reais for a log, would pay for the so-called 'parallel costs' required for doing business, for licensing, acquiring ATPF's, and so on - altogether about half the total cost. In this situation the context has changed during the course of the 90's with the increasing presence of controls. As the controls became more widespread, commercial activity became more specialized in the most valuable niches such as mahogany and a few other species.
Now it is necessary to take into account that, if there are not instruments that make the management of the forests more sustainable, along with the real possibility for businesses to compete successfully, so that they can reinvest their profits, and remain stable where they are located, instead of migrating to other locations once the wood is exhausted…. Without this kind of stability, businesses don't contribute to the economic and social development of their localities - or to the tax structure. It's both a legal and an economic question.
It's obvious that forest products represent a great potential in areas that still have significant resources that haven't yet been depleted. We see the present situation this way: you can't confront these issues only with instruments of command and control. In a parallel meeting that's going on right now, we're trying to figure out how to make responsible forest management less expensive for those willing to undertake it. For example, the cost of waiting for the bureaucracy to act., to approve management proposals, in fact, any difficulties facing a dealer trying to act legally. These costs, which those operating illegally don't have to face, tend to make those trying to invest in more responsible forest management unable to compete with the rest. This is a strategic issue which links economic questions on the one hand with those of command and control on the other. And there is also the question of how the federal and state government roles need to be divided, for when licensing and auditing are concentrated in one government organization at the point of local application, there is tremendous opportunity and temptation to sell access to easy approval. This is a very serious matter, and it is a situation present in many Ibama offices in the north. Government actions should stimulate economic activity, and, with fewer bureaucratic hurdles, encourage commercial activity tending more toward the legal and away from the illegal. There's a clear need to separate the function of licensing on the one hand, and auditing and control through the environmental police on the other. These are our findings, and we are at your disposition to go into greater depth if there should be a need.
Dep. Sarney Filho: It's a pleasure to hear this voice of reason and moderation and knowledge of this subject. When I was Minister of the Environment, Dr. Esmeraldi and I consulted many times with good give and take on these issues. Now it is necessary to come up with real ways to create sustainable management and economic development. Twenty-five, thirty years ago our region was one of the most prosperous in the whole northeast. With a thousand wood mills there, people came from all over to find work. But it was only fast, easy. People came to see the natural beauty of our land. But soon the forests were depleted, and now we are a land of poor people and our region is searching for a new vocation. With our new minister Rep. Marina Silva we must find a way to make things work, not simply to say 'no'. We must find a way with sustainable forest management to make it possible for businesses operate legally and prosper so they can contribute to their communities and pass on their companies to future generations, to their children. My basic question to the witness is how we can invert the present situation, so that legal activity becomes more widespread than illegal activity. We have wonderful laws, but they don't correspond to reality. Certainly the legal system must provide for some punishment, but not at the price of promoting illegal, instead of, legal activity.PRES: [calls on Dep. Asdrubal Bentes, the vice-president of the CPI] After the questions asked by Dep. Asdrubal, the witness may answer, as I see he has been taking notes.
AB: Dr. Roberto Esmeraldi, I've been listening to your attempt to describe some very real and serious changes in the situation of southern Para. You are making an accusation of the greatest seriousness, first, about the cost of wood, and second that at the start of this period, when the organs of government were located far from the point of their application, the cost of wood was amount X, but by now has increased by an additional amount Y due to the presence of the government organs. Sir, you're also agreeing with the widespread view that most of the wood being extracted in southern Para is now coming from areas that are legally off-limits at prices increased by the cost of corruption to a point that discourages businesses which want to operate within the law. We are happy to have in our midst today [indicates the back of the room] a representative from a group in the lumber industry association in my region, Maraba, which is working for reforestation and will be bringing up your findings in a meeting to be held there, in Belem at the legislative assembly, next Saturday at 9 A.M. I would also like to have from you a confirmation of the percentage of the wood costs attributable to corruption involving the organs of government. I also want to ask our 'relator', during his tenure as minister, if he was aware of the information presented by this witness.PRES: In this plenary session questions from the deputies may only be put to the witnesses themselves, not to other deputies.
AB: This is just a point in passing.
PRES: We'll set aside another day for dealing with these issues. Is that all you're asking?
AB: No, there's more. Do you know, sir, of any undertaking in Amazonia for reforestation, that is, for replacing trees? And if you do know of any, how is this problem being treated by the organs of government? From long ago the system of farms and plantations was imposed on us, it wasn't a model of development we wanted to follow. So then I wonder if you have any knowledge of undertakings in the area of reforestation and what difficulties they might be encountering mainly in the government sphere. As our relator and you, sir, know very well, there was a moment during his tenure when there was a decree [refers to several regions in the state of Para, DR] offering the possibility of reforestation in areas of agrarian reform, for example. According to a normative instruction from Ibama each small farmer was entitled to clear three hectares for his own sustenance. At the time the farmers would clear more than that. On those three hectares there was wood that could be sold. And this is what happened. In the meetings between Ibama and the farmers: Ibama wouldn't permit the wood to be sold, which would have generated tax revenue from for the state and municipal governments and made it possible for the small farmers to improve their standard of living. I'd like to know, sir, whether you know about these facts and what you would suggest, because we're really tired of trying to travel down this narrow, dry channel of dealing with Ibama. We want to replant these species in our region, because they don't exist anymore, and unfortunately we are encountering significant obstacles from the environmental organs of the federal and state governments, which are not carrying out their proper environmental roles in our politics.
PRES: Thank you, Dep. Asdrubal. I want to invite all the members of the commission to meet with Dep. Asdrubal and his family on Friday at 11 A.M. We salute you for your more than thirty years of service to the state of Para and its people and environment. Before we get to Dr. Roberto Esmeraldi's responses, I want to make it clear to the members of the commission that direct questioning by deputies to other deputies will not be allowed. We will make arrangements for answering deputy to deputy questions, and questions directed to Dep. Sarney Filho…with all due respect to my good colleague Dep. Asdrubal.. I now invite our witness, Dr. Roberto Esmeraldi, to respond to Dep. Sarney Filho and Dep. Asdrubal Bentes.RE: Thank you, Mr. President, for this opportunity to respond to Dep. Sarney Filho's very significant question: what to do to redress the balance between…
SF: Mr. Deputy, or, rather, witness, it's not necessary to answer now. You can send us a summary of your views.
RE: Thank you. Of course I will make proposals in writing which can support the work of the commission. All I can say here is that redressing this imbalance in favor of desirable, productive economic activity will require not just a single action, but a wide range of stimulative measures. For example, in the matter of actual stimulation, today, this year for the first time the BNDS made only one investment for reforestation in all of Amazonia, in this case in the state of Mato Grosso, in Presa Guavira. [sic]. Only one. The various instruments are inadequate and need to be reoriented in the face of a whole series of difficulties, for example difficulties regarding collateral accepted by credit institutions; land… the precariousness of the situation for the funding process for deeds, so that financial institutions, for example, won't accept land as collateral. So you have a vicious circle of difficulty which causes the forest activity to become marginalized with very little access. The indices on legal reservations are less favorable for those who maintain the forest canopy than for those who convert the forest to pasture. These are only examples of a larger context of public policies unfavorable to economically sustainable forest management. We have to confront these problems with a conjunction of measures which I'll be happy to detail in written form. It's not simply a question of intensifying certain parts of the auditing process so that the cost of illegal activity increases - that's obvious - that will not be sufficient for redressing the imbalance which now favors illegal activity. With regard to the two questions put by Dep. Asdrubal Bentes, first, can we confirm the relative increase in the cost of wood due to the payment of bribes? Yes, we can confirm it in the documents we're sending to the commission, and we can send another copy for you, sir [AB], but our objective is more to study the phenomenon than to make specific accusations. Our sources include individuals in the private sector in the region under study, and some of them are cited as examples. PRES: Since your organization has been doing statistical studies, can you indicate what actual percent is due to corruption, false ATPF's and the like?
RE: It's close to about 50%.
PRES: Please continue.
RE: The second question put by Dep. Asdrubal Bentes is very interesting, that is, the question of reforestation in the areas that have been so severely altered and degraded in the first place, a matter of great concern for Dep. Sarney Filho when he was Minister, and how to solve the problems of the smallest farmers, etc., etc. Well, we've found that in some areas there is a total lack of seedlings available for replanting while in others there's a surplus. Why should this be so? Because the supplies depend on the play of market forces; it takes time for these activities to show a positive return, and it is very difficult to get people to invest if the returns do not come right away, like a normal crop. This occurs on the one hand because of bureaucratic delays and inefficiencies and the fact that those destroying the forests never have to face those problems which do stand in the way of those trying to practice responsible forest management, and on the other hand, the failure of stimulative measures that would signal chances for economic opportunity in the region.PRES: Dr. Roberto Esmeraldi, thank you for your reply….
AB: It's not a reply…Beyond what he pointed out, there is a total lack of legal instruments. Because today all reforestation projects are paralyzed because there is no single decree or normative instruction compatible with the legislation.RE: I was referring to that when I talked about the bureaucracy….
AB: Thank you very much.
PRES: Seu Roberto, Please send us your report with all your statistical data as it relates to the issue of 50% of the wood extracted in Brazil being taken illegally, as it is one of the points this commission will need to examine in addition to that of forest management. Seu relator.
SARNEY FILHO: Mr. President, with regard to Dr. Esmeraldi's deposition, there remains one more question I think is import. You are now taking part in a meeting of a group formed to develop a normative instruction for the Ministry of the Environment. This group has representatives from all the segments involved with the wood question…RE: Yes
SARNEY FILHO: This group has proposed instructions that have been widely praised in all sectors. One question is why these instructions, and you may answer in writing to save time here, so thoroughly discussed, have never been implemented up to now. That's the basic question. Second, is it because of divergences between the agencies of the Ministry of the Environment itself, of Ibama, or are there other agencies involved, at the municipal or state levels? Please send your ideas to the commission to add support to our own report.RE: I will just say in general that in large part, not entirely, it has to do with relations between Ibama and the Ministry.
SARNEY FILHO: [tries to comment on the remarks of AB, but the President claims that, in view of the recording being made of this session, the rules do not permit this kind of question and answer, no matter how gentle and innocent, among the deputies themselves] Very good, Mr. President, but I just would like to indicate that during my tenure as Minister of the Environment, every accusation brought to our attention was directed for investigation. In Para alone there were at least 12 hearings and two superintendents were replaced. I'm certain that today in all of Amazonia, in all of Brazil, conduct in Ibama has improved, though certainly there will always be honest and dishonest individuals. But I always encouraged pursuing every investigation of misconduct the law bound me to.PRES: [Thanks Esmeraldi for his generosity in attending the CPI, urges him to send his written report, calls for the next two witnesses]
[In the testimony by all the following witnesses and questioning by the deputies one of the most important threads concerns the different sizes of tree sections under scrutiny: the Portuguese terms are 'tocos', that is, stumps and other smaller debris left from cutting down trees, or burning; 'raizes', roots; 'toras', logs or large trunk sections; 'toretes', shorter trunk sections; 'fustes', or small branches lopped off the trunk by a power saw; 'estacas de cerca', or fence posts. Legal authorization to stock / transport / export 'tocos and raizes' seems to be fairly easy to obtain, but no one at the hearing is able to specify the differences between 1) tocos, and 2) toras and 3) toretes. I've been assured that, in fact, only 'toras' can be used for bow wood. DR]
Testimony of Hevio Luiz Couvrean agronomist at the Eunapolis office of Ibama in southern Bahia
HLC: I would like my testimony to be my inspection reports
PRES: Very well. Dr. Hevio, I see you are the head of one of the branch offices [of Ibama].
Testimony of Luciano Menezes Evaristoof Ibama
PRES: Dr. Luciano is here to report after the fact about the confiscation of pernambuco in Bahia and the continuing investigation. I accompanied him when Mr. Alfred Mark [Raubitschek] made his deposition to the federal police. Dr. Luciano, if you could, please describe the operation for us. How did this happen? And what irregularities in Ibama have you observed during your tenure? You have 20 minutes for this.
LME: If you will allow me, Mr. President, I would like to introduce a short parenthesis here to reinforce what our relator said about fighting corruption. Because I myself took part in a commission of administrative discipline where we indicted nine officials of Ibama for corruption. What actually happens is that the laws governing these cases add nothing that leads to any punishment for any of the parties guilty of corruption, no matter where. To give you an idea, when we need to examine evidence in an investigation, we're required to give detailed advance notification, including what we're looking for. By the time the investigators arrive, all the evidence is gone, and so no action is ever taken. I mention this to support the relator's sketch of the problem.
Well, Mr. President, during the course of our work on illegal pernambuco markets in southern Bahia, after several investigations we discovered a sawmill in Sao Joao do Paraiso in southern Bahia with a stock of about 30 metric tons ['tonelada' or 1000 kg,, about 455 lbs.] of pernambuco. Pernambuco, as everyone knows, is prohibited for extraction, trade, and export. This mill had 30 metric tons, and as soon as we impounded the wood, we called for an investigation. The wood at this mill had Ibama authorization, according to my colleague at Ibama, Seu Hevio here [on his left], for transporting only stumps and roots ("tocos" and "raizes"). But among the supply we found, and our complete report and photographs show this clearly, there was none of that, only logs ("toras, toretes") already cut into small boards to prepare them for export and fashioning into violin bows.
But in this case of Seu Alfred, here is what is more serious: First, he is an American citizen, without a permanent visa in this country, engaged in the commercial activity of illegally buying wood in the whole region of southern Bahia. Second, Seu Alfred's mill has no legal status with Ibama for dealing in forest products and so it was an illegal, clandestine operation without proper documentation. Therefore the mill has been locked, the wood impounded, and all documentation seized by Ibama. Further, none of the 14 people working there has any legal working papers and so they were working there illegally.
In view of all this, Ibama closed the mill and impounded the wood in accordance with the relevant laws and brought charges to the Department of Justice. Then Mr. Raubitschek requested a meeting with us. Many businessmen are concerned about these issues involved with the pernambuco trade. And so he asked for a meeting with us. It was a happy coincidence that at that very moment this commission was being established. In a meeting with me and the president of this commission, Seu Alfred Mark made a deposition in which he agreed to all these irregularities and crimes and also that the wood at his mill had come from many other areas not covered by any documentation.PRES: (gets his attention and reminds LME of something)
LME: Oh, yes, in addition, Mr. Raubitschek explained that he has a "wood salvage" firm in the U.S. and that the wood he buys here in Brazil for R$1 [now about US$0.25] per kilo he ships to the US ready for fabrication into parts for guitars and violins and sells in the U.S., by his own admission, for about $48 per kilo. So, even aside from all these illegalities and crimes, practically no money is left here in this country from his operations. All this went on with no regard for the misery caused here by the threatened extinction of this species of tree. After the federal police took his deposition, he was sentenced to preventive detention. Subsequent investigations in Bahia have revealed about 40 metric tons more of pernambuco among other dealers. I don't want to go into all the details, but I did want to indicate that we are starting to have some success in prosecuting those engaged in the illegal activity of forest devastation involving pernambuco.PRES: In your experience, is Seu Alfred's operation one of the smallest or one of the largest you've encountered?
LME: In my experience, he is one of the largest dealers in contraband. He's one of the heaviest players in an international conspiracy involving pernambuco. He's one of the largest contrabandistas over there in southern Bahia.
PRES: Let's now pass the questions over to our 'relator', Dep. Sarney Filho. I encourage all members of the commission to direct their questions only to the witnesses.
DEP.SARNEY FILHO: It's lamentable that we can say these things have happened in southern Bahia. During my time as minister, it was one of the areas I dedicated myself to. We had seminars to create a working group involving the producers, Ibama, the NGO's; and we came to a mutual understanding, but I don't know whether that has continued to the present time, that is, after I left office. It's particularly sad because this region, where Brazil was discovered, now has no more than 3% of the original Mata Atlantica [rain forest].. And the largest part of this vegetation is found in protected land, or in parks, so that what must be happening, and this is particularly sad, is that the wood taken illegally must be coming from protected lands. So I have no doubt what is happening. And there are probably other actors involved. And during this period many other business have grown up around the protected lands, charcoal producers, for example. And they provide a certain amount of work for very poor, suffering people, who become the instruments of this illegal activity. So there are many things up in the air. My first question, Dr. Luciano, is this. In order for the wood to be exported, it has to go through certain stages, but finally it has to leave the country via one of the ports. Ibama is aware of the itinerary of these export activities, so we need to examine the personnel of these ports because they must be giving their authorization to allow the wood to leave the country. [confers with Pres. Ribeiro] The president informs me that the wood goes out by air, cut into small sections.LME: Yes, the wood is cut down to small boards from logs
DEP.SARNEY FILHO: So we should be able to detect these flights
LME: We already know about them
DEP.SARNEY FILHO: They're already detected. I'd also like to know whether Seu Hevio Luiz Couvre has been involved in any internal administrative proceedings at Ibama and what were the results; and also the results of any other inquiries involving other Ibama offices in that vast region during the past year. And of course we'd like to see copies of any evidence Dr. Luciano finds.
PRES: I think we also need to know more about how to define 'tocos e raizes', because all the ATPF's authorize only this kind of wood. I now recognize Dep. Asdrubal Bentes for his questions.
DEP.ASDRUBAL BENTES: What preventive measures have been adopted by Ibama to stop the further extraction of pernambuco? And also do you know what percentage of the pernambuco still exists in Brazil?PRES: Those are your questions?
DEP.ASDRUBAL BENTES: Those are my questions.
PRES: According to our rules I now call on Dep. Francistonio Pinto.
DEP. FRANCISTONIO PINTO: Mr. President, Mr. Minister,
PRES: You're entitled to intervene at any point in these proceedings.
DEP. FRANCISTONIO PINTO: As their representative, I've been very involved in the affairs of southern Bahia. Dr. Luciano, the work of Ibama has fallen into two main phases, the period of Minister Sarney Filho's tenure, and the period following that to the present. Very effective work was done and good rapport was developed with the largest lumber mills in the area, some of which no longer exist. There are now two very large well-managed and protected parks. It was a time of great environmental advances in southern Bahia. Dr. Luciano, I want to take advantage of this opportunity to ask you to tell me something about the Ibama office in Eunapolis; it's just a small local office. But what do we know about how complaints were handled there? Was there an effective process or not?PRES: Dep.Ricarto Freitas, your questions, please.
DEP. R.FREITAS: I want to reiterate the questions of Dep.Bentes, and I want to point out that there really is a difficulty in the relations between Ibama and the Ministry of the Environment. The minister pointed out structural problems that lead to difficulties of execution. In the bureaucracy itself, the actual structure of the agency, and Dr. Luciano knows exactly what I'm talking about…, the difficulty exists of getting the decisions to reach the point where they need to be carried out. There are many examples from the region I come from. For example, when there's an accusation of corruption and a manager asks for the replacement of a lower functionary, it never happens. So even when there's been a clear decision that should lead to a firing, there's not enough political will, and this involves everyone, to make it happen. Sometimes a corrupt official is simply transferred to another office where the same corrupt activity continues. I think Ibama as an agency carries out environmental policy. There was a pilot project tried in Amazonia: The activities of Ibama were decentralized into four offices, but there was a rule that if no contrary action was brought within 60 days, ATPF authorization would automatically be granted. So, Mr. President, we believe that in Mato Grosso more than 90% of the mills are operating illegally. Many mills would like to operate within the law, but there are just too many impediments, especially interminable delays while waiting for authorization, even for projects involving reforestation! [cites various projects in specific localities]DEP.ASDRUBAL BENTES: Has Ibama changed the nature of ATPF's?
PRES: Yes, now there are actual stamps placed on the wood
DEP.R.FREITAS: But even with stamps, the problems continue. If the agency doesn't inspect a project and issue the stamps, the whole project gets held up.PRES: Do you have a question?
DEP.FREITAS: My question is what measures have been taken, with regard to pernambuco and mahogany… that lead us to believe that things can change for the better in the area of forest management?PRES: We're just dealing with pernambuco here…
DEP.FREITAS: But surely there are similarities in the problems involved
PRES: Dr. Luciano, when you submit your written material, we would appreciate any data and statistics you can supply to support your answers to these questions.DEP.FREITAS: [cites another example of a specific case of corruption]
PRES: After the testimony of Seu Osmaren and the other witnesses tomorrow, Dr. Luciano will honor us with his responses to the questions of Dep. Asdrubal and Dep. Freitas and any others that are submitted to the commission at our executive session. For now let us try to proceed more effectively and at a faster pace, because we're dealing with an issue that's extremely complex that has been going on for a long time. Dr. Luciano.
LME: I agree with Dep. Freitas that many things need to change. To respond to the question of Dep. Sarney Filho, regarding the matter of export, the wood is going out through airports, and we will supply specific information to the commission…PRES: at our executive session.
LME: OK, as for the engineer, Seu Hevio, who did the reports of the visual inspection, I don't know whether he has responded to any charges from Ibama, but we can ask him [turns the microphone in Hevio's direction. Pres. Ribeiro pulls it back]PRES: Dr. Luciano, I'm sorry but we cannot….
LME: OK, I'll make the necessary internal inquiries about whether this engineer answered the charges or not, and bring the reply to this commission. What I can say about my Ibama colleague Seu Hevio, is that his report about the 'tocos e raizes' is not acceptable. Now this was a technical report. And this technical report contains no information about the owner of the wood, no photos, no diagrams, nothing that indicates where it's being stored or what its intended purpose is. I'm not accusing my colleague, because I can't do that, but I am saying that it's of extremely low quality - even though I'm not a forest engineer, I'm an economist, and a professional in this area - because it contains no technical measures for determining whether this wood should be authorized or not. In actuality there are sculptors and artisans who can made use of 'tocos e raizes' and the other scraps left over from the forest fires. But this wood was in fact logs, and this we cannot release under any circumstances.PRES: Dr. Luciano, 'tocos e raizes', what exactly are 'tocos e raizes'?
LME: After a fire, these are the various pieces of wood remaining on the forest floor, 'tocos e raizes'. I showed all the photos from our investigation to a properly qualified forest engineer at Seu Alfred's deposition, and our president was there with me, and he said that there was no question here of 'tocos e raizes': these were logs [i.e. from tree trunks, DR].
PRES: The report of Seu Hevio, which you say is of such poor quality, cited a specific farm, or two, I can't remember exactly. The quantity, can the wood mentioned in the report really be the same as the wood you actually found there?
LME: Technically, it's something impossible. There were 30 metric tons of pernambuco stacked in piles with papers for 'tocos e raizes' at the farm Inveja. There were several reports and documents for the farm Inveja giving the go-ahead for 'tocos e raizes'. Everything was in neat piles, not as described in the engineer colleague's report. The other very serious thing that happened in this region is that the liberation of 'tocos e raizes' has created a dangerous precedent in the region of southern Bahia. What happens is that a landowner sets fire to the forest on his land, then he goes to the civil police and complains that the fire was set by criminal arsons, then returns the following year to get permission to sell the pernambuco. Then he gets an engineer's report and ATPF's and the necessary documents freeing the wood for transport. It appears from his deposition that Seu Alfred was using the reports of Seu Hevio to buy wood all over the region. In fact, he didn't have wood from the farm Inveja. So, it's not up to me to say whether my colleague's report was fraudulent or not, but Ibama is implicated in setting up this legal trade by virtue of those reports, and he will have an opportunity to defend himself. Regarding the question of proceedings in corruption cases, I agree with Dep. Ricarte that under the present laws no one is ever prosecuted. In effect you're asking one official to charge his colleagues. That just doesn't work. [LME argues for a system of permanent disciplinary councils with linked data bases to guarantee that anyone convicted in one place would have to be fired and could not simply be transferred to another venue.] The question of 'tocos e raizes' is a matter of technical definition, and our technical experts can help clarify this. But the fact remains, this is absurd: what was sold was logs, logs cut to the appropriate size for fashioning into violin bows. In the case of Seu Alfred Mark, the wood was already cut to size, bound on palettes, and shipped off just like a person, to the United States, to his firm in the US where this wood that cost $R1 could be sold for US$48 per kilo.
Regarding the question of preventive measures, I can say that we have a program called "Operation Discovery", through which we try to monitor and prevent burning and arson and also carefully investigate any cutting or deforestation. So our method includes this systematic approach as well as investigations that we open whenever intelligence leads us to specific cases.
Regarding the percentage of pernambuco which remains, I don't have the figures now but will try to get them for the commission; but I suspect it is extremely low.
Regarding the issue raised by Dep. Ricarte, I agree, and I've been very involved in the issues of illegal activity. Responsible forest management is costly, and deforestation is relatively cheap by comparison. I'm not a technical person, but I do believe that the norms needed for establishing systems of responsible management are quite complicated. I think we need to do more to help those investigating judges who seek to follow the law. The deputy is right in saying that it is difficult for them.Today we are acting more vigorously in investigations at the local level. I want the general and federal attorneys-general to come here and explain why they aren't acting more vigorously in their prosecutions.[quite emotional and difficult to understand, DR]DEP.FREITAS:: I would like to take this opportunity to suggest that we require this.
PRES: Authorized. Will the Secretary please send this order to….
LME: Regarding the other issue you raised about reforming the system of prosecuting judges in Sinope …. PRES: Will the Secretary please issue an order regarding….
LME: What I can tell you is that the way things are working now, the actions of Ibama are making things tougher for the legal side of the industry, and easier for the illegal side.
PRES: Gentlemen, Deputies, from this deposition by the investigative head of Ibama, it is clear how important tomorrow's executive session will be, since we'll have access to many facts and data which aren't available here. I will not allow this subject, the possible inefficiency and corruption of Ibama, to deter the main focus of the CPI, which is the illegal trade in animals and forest products. I also cannot accept the principle that a federal agency can be completely inefficient and completely corrupt in its activities. Let us begin questioning Seu Hevio Luiz Couvre on matters that came up when the wood of Seu Alfred Mark [Raubitschek] was apprehended. I will begin the questioning and then the deputies may question the witness directly themselves. Seu Hevio, how many years have you worked for Ibama? You may answer directly.HLC: I've been an official there since June, 1984
PRES: June, 1984. Seu Hevio, when did you start working for Ibama in Eunapolis?
HLC: At the beginning of 1987.
PRES:1987. Have you ever faced an administrative hearing concerning your professional conduct?
HLC: Twice in that region.
PRES: Regarding what aspects of your work? Personal effectiveness as an engineer-agrononomist? You're an agronomist for Ibama. Did they have to do with a report?HLC: They were general in nature
PRES: What kind? Can you say?
HLC: They had to do with investigations…
HLC: of procedures, of the office, nothing specific about my…
PRES: With ATPF's?
HLC: No, I didn't work with…
HLC: Also no.
PRES: the taking of stumps and roots
HLC: No, because in the inspection I did for Seu Nei…
PRES: No, about those investigations.
HLC: About my investigations, no.
PRES: These investigations were made by you in person? What are 'general' investigations?
HLC: About the procedures Ibama adopts in the region, and I answered all the questions that were asked.
PRES: And the results of these inquiries?
HLC: Up to now I haven't been notified.
PRES: Do you know Seu Alfred Mark Raubitscheck?
HLC: No, sir.
PRES: You never saw him?
HLC: No, sir.
PRES: He's here [gestures to the audience], but he must have stepped out. So you never saw Seu Alfred Mark Raubitscheck? That is what you're saying?HLC: No, I only met Seu Nei.
PRES: So you only met Seu Nei, you must have seen him when he was going by [gestures]. Do you know anything about Seu Alfred, or rather, the activities of Seu Alfred? Or Seu Nei? Are they known by Ibama in Eunapolis?HLC: Concerning Seu Nei, he made two applications for inspections of roots and stumps, OK?
PRES: Roots and stumps. What farm was this?
HLC: The farm Inveja
PRES: Only one farm, the farm called Inveja. How many hectares on this farm of Seu Alfred?
HLC: I would have to look in the papers
PRES: You just made the report. You don't recall offhand how many hectares?
HLC: No, I don't know.
PRES: How long have you known Seu Nei.
HLC: I've known him since 2001, the beginning of 2001, when he made those applications
PRES: Did he come to you directly? Was that the normal procedure, to go directly to the person who would do the inspection, or to the manager of the agronomy section?HLC: He applied following the normal protocol, and then the engineer would reply
PRES: Yes, but how did you meet Seu Nei?
HLC: He wanted an appointment for an inspection
PRES: So he wanted to choose you? Were there other forestry engineers?
HLC: There were.
PRES: At Eunapolis HLC: I wasn't his choice, no.
PRES: He spoke to you only about your inspection, right?
HLC: No, he just made a request for an inspection, no.
PRES: OK. How many inspections did you make of the stumps and roots stored at the farm Inveja?
HLC: I made two inspections with photo-reports
PRES: Reports, photos.
PRES: You went alone to make these inspections.
HLC: Yes, alone
PRES: You went over every hectare of the farm?
HLC: I went specifically where there was wood stored: stumps and roots.
PRES: You went precisely where the wood was.
HLC: I photographed it and determined the quantity.
PRES: What was the quantity? The first and the second time.
HLC: It's cited in my signed reports.
PRES: OK. The CPI has copies of the following documents signed by you. Report of Inspection Number 46. I would like the secretary of the commission to give me access to these reports so I can see and recall the details. Report of Inspection Number 46 of 2001, Report of Inspection Number 54 of 2001, Report of Inspection Number 64, all requested by Seu Nei. There were in fact three, not two. All from 2001. Altogether, you characterize all the wood examined as stumps and roots, wood from fence posts coming from dismantled fences. Do you confirm all the contents of these documents? Here they are.[passes them to Hevio]
Question from an unidentified delegate: I would only like to corroborate the words of the president and ask the witness what characterizes a 'toco'. Dimensions, what length, diameter, etc.
PRES: Dr. Luciano went into all the difficulties regarding this question, the illegal activity, Ibama, all that. But your question will be put. So do you confirm, as you look at them, all the information in these documents?HLC: Yes, I do, because….
PRES: How come none of these reports contains photos? Don't you usually document your reports with photographs?
PRES: OK I know there are some photos here. I don't know yet if they go with the reports. We're still in the midst of this proceeding. Let me ask this: For what reason are there no photographs of the material examined in any of these reports? You just give a report saying a certain quantity of roots and stumps. And the second question, is it your habit not to document your reports with photos?HLC: Most times, when there's a camera available, I do document, and then I submit it to the supervisor's division.
PRES: When you have access to a camera. What does that mean?
HLC: The office has only one camera. At that time it wasn't available.
PRES: I understand [remains deadpan, DR]. So there's documentation only when there's a camera available. Do you have any knowledge with respect to the recent apprehension by Ibama of 41 tons of pernambuco in Sao Joao do Paraiso? Anything about this subject? HLC: I saw something in the newspaper
PRES:.In the paper. Do you know anything about illegal furnishing of ATPF's or false inspection reports by the Ibama office in Eunapolis or any other Ibama offices in Bahia?HLC: No, I don't know anything about it.
PRES: Even though there's evidence that as much as 50% of the wood extracted in Brazil is being taken illegally. No information about that ever reached you? Not a thing. Nothing that would suggest about pernambuco in the area of Eunapolis…Because it's well known that in that region, pernambuco and jacaranda…they're very similar.HLC: You see, they were asking for an inspection of stumps and roots and 'quartazoes' so they could use them.
PRES: In his application, did Seu Nei have to explain what he wanted to use all this wood for? After all, it's a pretty big farm. Even Seu Alfred, in his deposition, admitted that he let his neighbors know he was interested in buying wood, and so they would bring logs from other farms in the area. So Nei's application never said what he wanted the wood for?HLC: No, he just applied for the inspections and never said what the wood was for, just to verify the wood stored there.
PRES: Verification of the stocks, in other words, how many tons or kilos you would find of stumps.
PRES: In these actual inspections what did you find out about the amount of wood stored there? Were your reports based on kilos or cubic meters of wood?HLC: Cubic meters
PRES: Now how much does a cubic meter of pernambuco weigh, for example?
HLC: I never weighed it to find out…
PRES: You never weighed it. What's a cubic meter? One by one by one, like this?
HLC: A cubic meter.
PRES: A cubic meter. How many is this table? [indicates with his arms]
HLC: That's a linear meter.
PRES: Yes but more or less, how much material is there here?
HLC: You can't do much more than estimate how much.
PRES: And with stumps, how do you come up with a number? From your experience…You just get a rough idea by eye?[uses the delightful word meaning 'eye-meter'! DR]HLC: Yes, because the volume…[picks up a paper]
PRES: Could you show me those photos?
HLC: Of course [passes them to the president]
PRES: Well, this photo wasn't in your reports. But how many cubic meters in this first photograph?
HLC: around four
PRES: about four. These are stumps?
HLC: yes, stumps
PRES: [hands the photo to a staffer] I'd like this to get to the deputies. Is there any contract or any other document of sale that exists in the Ibama office showing the quantity of 'tocos'[stumps]?
HLC: I don't know if there is any contract between the buyer and seller. It was just a matter of verifying the amount of stumps and roots. PRES: How does your office in Eunapolis monitor the extraction of pernambuco?
HLC: Normally only 'dead' wood is approved for extraction.
PRES: I would like to compare the photos made for the investigation of Seu Alfred's farm, of the wood found there, with these photographs. I'm no forest engineer, but I believe this makes a lot of sense. Deputies, here are the photos of the wood that was impounded. They're trunks. And here are several photos of 'tocos', or stumps. Please make these available to the deputies. Now you'll see the wood that was found and a picture of a 'toco', the wood that was certified by Dr. Hevio's reports. But since these photos which Dr. Hevio found weren't part of his reports, we don't know where they actually came from - could be anywhere. In the spiral binding are the photos of the impounded wood. You have the only copy. Please pass it on the other deputies.[about a minute passes as they examine the photos] If you can, please pass it back to me. We're not forest engineers, but we can ask questions making use of the photographs. [has the photos in hand again] These are the stumps. I'd like to know from you, if you can guarantee that these are stumps and roots, be careful what you attest…Seu Alfred is using your report [holds it up] to say that these [holds up the photos from the Ibama investigation] are stumps and roots.HLC: These are logs and branches that have been cut into smaller sections. They have no relation to stumps and roots.
PRES: OK. I'd like to know if the deputies have any questions for our witness here before we bring Seu Alfred and Seu Hevio face to face.DEPUTY: Is Seu Nei from that region or did he go there around the time of these events, in 2001?
HLC: Certainly in the period, I don't know whether he's from the area.
DEPUTY: Do you have any knowledge of Seu Nei ever being accused of similar illegal activity in connection with wood extraction in any other part of the country?HLC: I don't have any such knowledge.
DEPUTY: So you wouldn't know anything about this.
HLC: No Sir.
DEPUTY: And you don't know anything about where Seu Nei came from? Bahia, Pernambuco, Para?
HLC: His origin? I don't know. He must….
DEPUTY: During this period he was in the area of Eunapolis [hard to understand, DR]
PRES: Deputy, when I was present at Seu Alfred's deposition, he said that he met Seu Hevio at the time of both inspections, and Seu Hevio says he never saw Seu Alfred. We have these photos and the photos from the investigation. When we have Seu Nei here, we'll be able to tell which version is true.DEPUTY: Thank you.
PRES: More questions? Dep. Asdrubal Bentes? No questions. Dep. Ricarte de Freitas? [a few comments of ingratiation here]
DEP.RICARTE: [likewise] Dr. Hevio, it's clear you're here because your report has been used in this case. You made two reports.
HLC: Actually there were three.
DEPUTY: Did you know that these reports were being used for wood that was neither stumps nor roots? They were logs cut down to size. Did you know that your reports were being used as cover for this wood?HLC: I certainly know it now.
DEPUTY: That was my only question
PRES: Thank you, Dep. Ricarte de Freitas. At this time Dr. Luciano is leaving for another appointment, but we may need to have him return. Now I'm calling for Seu Alfred Mark and Seu Nei Carlos Guiomares de Oliveira, after a recess of one minute.
Testimony of Nei Carlos Guiomares de Oliveira
[He is Raubitschek's agent. The Farm Inveja is titled to him and all the documents relating to the wood in question are signed by him. DR]DEPUTY ASDRUBAL BENTES: Do you know Dr. Hevio Luis Couvre?
NCGO: Dr. Hevio there is an engineer for Ibama in Eunapolis.
DEPUTY ASDRUBAL BENTES: How long have you had relations with him?
NCGO: I applied to Ibama to have wood at the farm Inveja inspected, and they chose Dr. Hevio. But I haven't had any dealings with Dr. Hevio..DEP: But you were there at the time of the inspection?
NCGO: I was there
PRES: You were at the farm Inveja
NCGO: I was there
DEP: Did you get a copy of his report on the inspection?
NCGO: I did. It came from Ibama.
DEP: Did his inspection report mention only stumps and roots, or were there logs of pernambuco?
NCGO: short logs ['toretes']
PRES: There were short logs on the farm
DEP: Were they mentioned in his report?
PRES: The inspection reports are here. There are three of them. [reads briefly from each report] There's no mention of short logs. Only 'dead wood material' of the species jacaranda and pernambuco. Existence of stumps and roots of dry jacaranda and pernambuco more than twenty years old, probably cut from pasture lands. In accordance with the amount of wood being stored on the farm, issuance of 2 ATPF's for transport. Second,…stumps, roots, and fence posts. Other report…stumps roots, and branches ['fustes' or 'frestes']. What are those?…
DEP: [interrupts] I want to shorten this. Exactly what is legal for the commerce in pernambuco? Only stumps, only roots, or 'fustes', only wood material that is dead?PRES: Whom are you asking?
DEP: I'm asking our technical expert here [indicating Dr. Hevio]
PRES: You may answer
HLC: Normally, we come across only stumps, roots, and small branches which are cut off by the power saw at the edge of a pasture, branches maybe two, three, four meters in length. They just cut them. But this is all dead wood. When live pernambuco is cut, it starts sending off shoots immediately, so that it's very easy to identify.DEP: Is it possible your report about stumps, roots, and branches could be applied to approve actual logs?
HLC: I don't believe so. My intention was to approve the material I detected when I made the inspection. Now, if the report was misused, the investigation can determine that.
DEP: In Para we know of forest management projects that are authorized for a certain area and then the wood is taken from somewhere else. I think everyone should be aware of this.HLC: It could happen
DEP: So what I'm asking by analogy, is it possible that someone in the area covered by your inspection report documenting stumps, roots, and dead wood material, could have used it to bring pernambuco from some other area, not the one where you did the inspection?HLC: I believe it is possible.
PRES: Seu Nei saw this photograph and he said that in his mill there was this type of material [trunks or logs, possibly already cut into boards, DR] as well. He affirmed that there weren't only stumps and roots as you reported. It could be said that your report could be used to transport large and small logs of pernambuco and to cover up an illegal operation involving contraband. Now I know there were logs too, since I was there at the investigation…HLC: It's possible.
PRES: It's possible. So all of a sudden you now think your report….So Nei applies to Ibama for an inspection of the farm Inveja, then they're both there for the inspection, because he was the actual manager of the farm Inveja, you see, Deputy, so they must have met each other, even though you say [turning to Hevio on his left] the two of you didn't meet. If things happened this way, if this wood [shows one of the reports] isn't stumps or the wood material your report certifies, and Seu Nei is clearly saying your report was used to certify the wood at the mill of Rio de Janeiro, then sent the sales receipts to Seu Alfred's irregular farm to support its illegal activity. [to the secretary:] Please give these to Dep. Feijao. [Explains to the deputy:] These are the photographs that accompanied Seu Hevio's report; these are the ones resulting from the Ibama investigation at the farm Inveja.
DEP. ASDRUBAL BENTES: Mr. President, I think it's very important for us to show that Seu Nei was the front man for Seu Alfred, who, without proper documentation, couldn't legally register a business in this country. He was used by Seu Alfred, with full awareness of what he was doing, to make possible the whole operation leading to the exporting of the wood. Now with regard to the technical report from Ibama, we must make a more profound evaluation because first, the report he made didn't include photographs, on the grounds there was no available camera…PRES: Three different times; that's quite a coincidence….
DEP. ASDRUBAL BENTES: But that needs to be verified: whether his certification for stumps and roots was actually used for actual logs and 'living' wood material. There will need to be a new examination…PRES: We have to get Ibama to empower a new independent [investigative] team….
DEP. ASDRUBAL BENTES: Right. What's going on in Bahia is going on in all of Brazil. At least now the ATPF's are coordinated with an actual seal on the wood itself.
PRES: But the same thing can happen even with a seal. OK, now I would like the secretary to call up Seu Alfred. I urge the deputies to listen carefully because all three [Nei, Alfred, Hevio] will be here together.
Waiting for Amarildo and Raubitschek
[After about 6 minutes, the hearing resumes. Seated before the deputies, from left to right, are Nei, Alfred, President Ribeiro, Amarildo, Hevio]
PRES: In an attempt to verify Dr. Luciano's claim that Seu Alfred is one of the largest dealers in contraband pernambuco in our national territory, I have decided, at this phase of the testimony, to have these four, Seu Alfred, Seu Hevio, Seu Amarildo, and Seu Nei testify together to facilitate questioning by the deputies. We'll start with Seu Amarildo; you have 20 minutes for your presentation. It is important that you tell what you know about the facts referred to here so far and, if you made an accusation at some time in the past involving any of these witnesses present here, why you did so.
Testimony of Amiraldo Formentini:PRES: First, your full name.
AGF: My name is Amarildo Geraldo Formentini.
PRES: Seu Amarildo, please read this out loud.
AGF: I give my word of honor to tell truthfully what I know about whatever I'm asked. Thank you for inviting me to talk about…
PRES: About Seu Nei, Seu Alfred , Seu Hevio, and the case we're dealing with - the illegal export of pernambuco.
AGF: I didn't come to talk about that, OK? I got here and was surprised to see Seu Nei, a person I met three years ago when I was doing some work dealing in vegetables and transporting them in my truck, you know, over there in Bahia. I saw corruption on the roads, highways, everything else. He saw my truck and tried to get me interested in false receipts. So I talked with Seu Raimondo [a reporter] from the Globo [TV] network, with whom I was working on a show for Globo. That citizen over there was passing me false receipts and ATPF's and we got the whole thing recorded on tape. For the investigative project we were doing, I gave a deposition to the police in Salvador, the highway police, the federal police, at the time.PRES: Seu Amarildo, you're saying that in 19…
PRES: In 1999, three years ago Seu Nei gave you false receipts and ATPF's
AGF: yes, already printed up
PRES: Why did he do this?
AGF: You see, I was working with Seu Raimondo…
PRES: Who is this Raimondo?
AGF: Raimondo, the reporter from Globo, I was working with him.
PRES: investigative work?
AGF: It was for a show about how the wood trafficking worked from southern Bahia all the way up to…And that citizen there…
PRES: Seu Nei
AGF: We got everything on a micro-camera and everything we needed for our investigation and we made recordings of all our outbound telephone calls. And he personally passed me receipts….PRES: And in these phone calls you were only trying to buy wood?
AGF: Only to buy ATPF's and receipts.
PRES: purchases of ATPF's and receipts to legally transport and deal in wood.
AGF: legalized wood that was being transported from one place, at that time, to a false address south of the border in Minas Gerais. [I couldn't understand his last comment, DR]
PRES: So Nei gave out receipts with addresses of places that weren't his. Did any of these documents mention his mill at [I didn't understand this. DR].AGF: No, no, it wasn't that. He just sold receipts…
PRES: He just sold receipts.
AGF: At that time he had complete control over the inspections, see?
PRES: Total control? What does that mean?
AGF: You could just keep driving until you got to the ATPF sign, see? Then you had to pay.
PRES: So his business was selling false receipts and ATPF's. And the ATPF you bought was for 100 cubic meters of wood, is that right?AGF: The ATPF's were filled out with various addresses. One turned out to be a vacant lot.
PRES: There was only a vacant lot….
AGF: It was a false address.
PRES: It was a false address, and the paper was….
AGF: They were pre-printed. If they saw the ATPF with Nei's name on it they'd just wave you on.
PRES: They'd just let you go, eh? We're going to look into the question of how this conspiracy actually operated. You were also involved in a legal proceeding. What happened there?AGF: A policeman was arrested.
PRES: A policeman was arrested. Why?
AGF: He was involved with that mafia over there in Sao Joao do Paraiso.
PRES: He was arrested.
AGF: He and some of the highway police were fired. When they tried to find Nei, he had already been warned and had a chance to get away. He had access to everything. PRES: So you're certain this is the same Nei.
AGF: Absolutely certain
PRES: That man over there?
AGF: For sure.
PRES: And since you were out of the area for some time, you never got to find out what happened. Is there any legal proceeding still in progress?AGF: I don't know. I fled from the area after being threatened, and I haven't been back.
PRES: Who threatened you? Was it Nei?
AGF: Yes, he threatened to have me killed.
PRES: He threatened to have you killed.
PRES: Do you know if there's any proceeding still in progress?
AGF: I never returned there. I've been working in Para.
PRES: In which district was that suit brought?
AGF: I gave my testimony to the federal police and highway police in Salvador.
AGF: The only thing is that when I came here I saw this citizen right in front of me, this man who threatened me so that my family and I had to leave the area of Eunapolis and couldn't return until today.
PRES: Will the secretary of this commission please contact the police in Salvador, and report back to us within one hour, to determine whether proceedings were brought against Seu Nei and whether a protective order was requested for Seu Amarildo. Is there anything else you'd like to say?
PRES: The commission wants to assure you that if you need any assistance in the way of personal protection or security, we can be there to support you. Does any of the deputies have a question?
DEP.FEIJAO: First, with relation to the witness Seu Hevio Luiz Couvre, before we go on to the testimony of Seu Amarildo, do you know Seu Hevio, your colleague from Ibama?
AGF: Unfortunately, he's no longer my colleague, since I was fired from Ibama. I've never seen him before. But I was invited to work on a case for Ibama in Para until they let me go. [AF describes a case in which a mayor in Para was charged with corruption, he and says he has all the details recorded on tape. The president orders the secretary to get information on the case and to order the mayor to testify before the commission the next day. Informs Amarildo about the federal witness protection program, and tells him he must be available in case further testimony should be needed]
DEP.FEIJAO: Mr. President, I think it is very important that we hear more from Seu Nei on this matter. In situations like this there are always at least two, perhaps three different ways of looking at the issues involved.
PRES: We will need to have all your tapes so we can examine them. Thank you Seu Amarildo ….Seu Nei, Seu Amarildo has just finished making a serious charge against you. That you lived off selling false receipts and ATPF's and that you threatened him. Please answer the question of Dep. Antonio Feijao: Did you threaten to kill Seu Amarildo?NEI: No sir.
PRES: Did you sell false receipts?
NEI: Again, no sir.
PRES: Did you sell false ATPF's?
NEI: No sir
PRES: Were you the head of a network involving local Ibama offices and the federal highway police and the local police to facilitate the illegal transport and commerce of wood?NEI: No, and I don't understand why he said all these things, because they're not true.
PRES: Did you see the show [on the Globo network]?
PRES: And did you agree with what they said?
NEI: No I didn't
PRES: Why didn't you bring suit, since they said you were using false addresses and were providing people with false documentation? Where were you living at that time?NEI: I don't understand.
PRES: At the time of the show, everyone was talking about it, even your family. It must have been an important time for you. Didn't you feel threatened? You didn't try to run away? What did you do?
NEI: I didn't do anything. I stayed in my house where I was living for 13 years. The same house, the same address. I didn't try to go anywhere.PRES: Did you know if the police were looking for you? Because Seu Amarildo said you disappeared.
NEI: I don't know anything about that, because I didn't flee.
PRES: And you weren't involved in any legal proceedings with the police concerning these matters?
NEI: No sir.
PRES: Seu Amarildo, Seu Nei was cited on the reporter's show as [consults a transcript of the TV show] Nei Carlos Guiomares de Oliveira.
AGF: Deputy, I don't remember the name, but I remember his physiognomy
PRES: This happened in 1999, or 98
AGF: I think so
PRES: Let's do as follows. I've determined….
DEP.FEIJAO: [tries to say something]
b>PRES: Sustained. I've determined that, rather than pursue these questions, we're going to follow another route, namely to turn Seu Nei and Seu Amarildo over to the federal police and report that Seu Nei took part in a conspiracy to issue false ATPF's and receipts, and this was shown on television, but the police did nothing about it. In tomorrow's session we'll have both men present so we can resolve their conflicting testimonies. Secretary, please make sure that we have all the necessary documents available for tomorrow's session. Deputy?
DEP. NARDES: Mr. President, I want to add this to your brilliant plan for how to proceed. In order to follow the requirements of our democratic system, we must give the accused an opportunity to defend himself.
PRES: What I said was to make sure I was understood. There were accusations of a crime and an attempt to flee. If the federal police did nothing then, they need to at least face the issue now. If one of these two is lying, we need to know about it.
DEP.FEIJAO: First, if it becomes clear from any of the depositions here that a particular issue has serious political implications, we will have to deal with it in order to make a credible recommendation. Second, I would like to ask Seu Nei how he came to be here today.
PRES: Seu Nei, I'm not sure I understand exactly what Dep. Feijao is asking. But it seems to me it came about through this logical process: If there is someone here who is lying, one say this the other saying something else, I think there's an established procedure for deciding between them and to learn how this conspiracy worked with an American buying his service for the sole purpose of exporting wood to the United States. Seu Nei, you may answer the question from Dep.Feijao.
NEI: The wood that was exported was 1.8 cubic meters, that's all my truck holds. And that wood was authorized by Ibama itself. The wood sent to the US up to the present from Brazil amounted altogether to 1.8 cubic meters [demonstrates by stretching out his arms]. That's all that was sent. There were also 10 meters of jacaranda from Albergea Violacia (sic), which is wood allowed by the law. [lists several other varieties allowed by law] The less than 2 cubic meters of pernambuco was authorized by Ibama itself, with ATPF's issued by Ibama. The authorization was for wood from Bahia - and that's where Seu Alfred's shop was - so I didn't consider the address false, and the ATPF didn't specify where the wood had to be sent to, only that it had to be from Bahia. It could be from my mill Rio de Janeiro, or from anywhere else in Bahia. Maybe I was wrong, and if so then I'm sorry; but I thought I was doing the right thing.
DEP. FEIJAO: Before we send anyone to the federal police, we must give him a chance to explain his point of view. I would like to hear from Seu Alfred.
PRES: Of course, we will hear his deposition. And don't worry, if there are more questions for Seu Nei or Seu Amarildo, no one is going to the federal police now. They'll stay with us till the end of this session.
DEP.NARDES: I want to support the point Dep. Feijao just made. We are dealing here with very grave charges and must act with great care and propriety. I also have a question for Seu Amarildo.PRES: Please go ahead
DEP.NARDES: Seu Amarildo, I would like to know from you, sir, how long you worked for Ibama, when you were let go, and what were the circumstances of your firing.
AGF: Deputy, I was trying to do work for the attorney-general of the republic. I was fired by Dr. Paulo Contente, a very serious and honest person, who was the head of Ibama in that region at the time, after my involvement in that investigation of the mayor charged with corruption. But I don't know if that was the specific reason I was fired.DEP.NARDES: And there are no other facts we should know?
AGF: Well, he asked me to leave his staff and he was the one who fired me. It was very risky to challenge a mayor in an electoral year.PRES: Seu Nei, at Seu Alfred's farm there was a sign for the Mill Rio de Janeiro. How do you justify that?
NEI: Because at that time we were awaiting authorization for it to become an affiliate of Seu Alfred's mill. We didn't yet have the papers from the state government, but we expected to get them within two weeks.PRES: But the mill wasn't legally authorized at that time.
NEI: But the sign hadn't been installed. It was lying on the ground on the side of the wood shop. It wasn't set up on the building. We were waiting for the authorization.
PRES: Seu Nei, during the period between 1999 and 2001, you were living in the area of Eunapolis. What was your monthly salary?NEI: Whenever I needed money I would ask my brother and he would send it to me.
PRES: And last year, what did that come to each month? What about last month?
NEI: About R$3000 or R$4000
PRES: What is the name of your lumber mill?
NEI: Madereira Rio de Janeiro, Ltd.
PRES: Because we're going to check the fund balances during the last few years. Did you declare and pay income taxes during these years?NEI: Yes, I paid taxes
PRES: What bank handles your money?
NEI: the Bank of Brazil
PRES: Only the Bank of Brazil?
NEI: Only the Bank of Brazil.
PRES: Because we can check into your banking records. What determined the level of salary you would draw?
NEI: Sometimes I had extra expenses for the kids.
PRES: What kinds of wood did you sell there?
NEI: Wood from Para, from Mato Grosso, from Parana.
PRES: [here a question I didn't understand, DR] Deputy Asdrubal?
DEP.ASDRUBAL: Seu Amarildo, when you worked for DAS, was it under Ibama in Belem or in Maraba?
AGF: Deputy, I was already known in Maraba. But after the TV show, I was invited by the office in Belem.
DEP.ASDRUBAL: And how long were you doing this DAS work?
AGF: I think it was about two years, one and a half or two years.
DEP.ASDRUBAL: But during the time you knew Seu Nei, you never had any connection with Ibama?
DEP.ASDRUBAL: You were self-employed?
AGF: That's right
DEP.ASDRUBAL: And during that time, to support your family you were only working on the question of Seu Nei's illegal activities?
AGF: Deputy, when I was in Maraba, I was a sort of environmental idealist. I was involved with tomatoes, growing them and marketing them, down there in southern Bahia. When I observed all that business with the phony receipts and ATPF's, I decided to bring charges. [Describes his four-month-long sting operation in collaboration with the reporter Raimondo.]DEP.ASDRUBAL: Now, about the tapes you made, were they secret or were they legally authorized?
AGF: They were legal, at least for this subject. And before we gave up the project, Raimondo had me make a deposition about everything.
DEP.FEIJAO: Seu Amarildo, if Dep. Asdrubal Bentes will allow me a question?
DEP.ASDRUBAL: I welcome your intervention.
DEP.FEIJAO: Was your work for the Globo TV show instrumental in your being invited to work for Ibama?
AGF: Yes, you see, after the show aired, I never imagined…they [names several Ibama managers] invited me back to Bahia to document the whole trajectory, all the places, where I knew this activity was taking place.DEP.ASDRUBAL:: And the whole time you worked for Ibama you were only involved in the area of investigations?
DEP.ASDRUBAL: And, you must have seen both good and bad people.
DEP.ASDRUBAL::Good and bad businessmen and good and bad bureaucrats. Now, according to the testimony of Roberto Esmeraldi, the price of wood was 50% higher due to the costs of corruption, bribes, etc. During the time of your involvement with Ibama, did you observe there crimes both in the office and externally on the roads?
AGF: Deputy, I can't really generalize. There were certain places where the Ibama offices were stricter. Where some of the mill owners would try to operate within the law, but for some it was easier to go the route of the phony documents.DEP.ASDRUBAL: And where did these ATPF's come from?
AGF: They were issued by Ibama itself. There were something like 10,000 stolen ATP'S.
DEP.ASDRUBAL: Do you know if Ibama had any administrative procedures for dealing with this issue?
AGF: In all the cases I passed on to Dr. Luciano, he said that the intelligence area had procedures for dealing with the problem.
DEP.ASDRUBAL: But the question really is, how do we determine whether this is true or not?
PRES: Dr. Luciano, you may answer
DR.LUCIANO: You mean about 1999?
PRES: About the disappearance of all those ATPF's
DEP.ASDRUBAL: If it's true that there were 10,000 stolen ATPF's circulating all over Brazil, and Seu Amarildo indicated you said there were procedures, there's an immense problem here of how to determine the actual facts and deal with whoever's at the root of this crime.
DR.LUCIANO: Sure, about 10,000 ATPF's were stolen from the Ibama office in Conquista. That's a matter of passive corruption. In the areas the commission is studying now, the organized conspiracies have really…[uses some expletive and the president immediately cuts off his microphone]PRES: Please try to control yourself. Tomorrow we can go into these questions in our executive session.
DR.LUCIANO: I regret the language I used before this CPI, Mr. President, but I wanted to indicate how forcefully we are trying to deal with these problems.DEP.FEIJAO: Mr. President, maybe this isn't so surprising. After all, Vitoria da Conquista is a region with forests everywhere. Perhaps the disappearance of so many ATPF's would be more surprising in [names several other areas]…. AGF: Are you asking me?
DEP.FEIJAO: No, Dr. Hevio, is it common…?
HLC: I don't work in the region of Vitoria da Conquista, but I've heard that in some other areas, the number might be even higher.
PRES: Are you satisfied?…Let's ask Seu Nei, do you know any of these businesses: Arcos de Brasil, Horst John, Waterviolet, and Arcos Marco Raposo.?NEI: No, I don't
PRES: Let's go on to the next witness….
Testimony of Alfred Mark Raubitschek:
PRES: Let's begin questioning the next witness, Mr. Alfred Mark Raubitschek, an American citizen, who maintains a business in southern Bahia which buys wood on a large scale, especially pernambuco, for fabricating into musical instruments, sold to his business in the US. I already met him at his deposition to the federal police about his illegal activities in this country from 2000 to 2002. To begin the questioning, Seu Alfred, we tried to get a translator, but the official translator was already occupied with another commission. We will speak more slowly so you can understand everything.AMR: I hope you can understand me.
PRES: I'm sure we will, but please stay close to the microphone. [to a technician] Please make sure the sound on Seu Alfred's microphone is properly adjusted, so we don't have any more difficulties understanding each other than one might expect in the natural order of things. Seu Alfred, what is your legal status in Brazil today?AMR: I went through the normal process of civil marriage, I've applied for a permanent residency visa…
PRES: You're in a civil marriage with a Brazilian woman, right?
PRES: Everything is in order with your visa?
AMR: I've applied to the Federal Police (PF) for a permanent visa. Now I can only stay for 6 months at a time.
PRES: We'll check with your lawyer about this. Where do you live now, Seu Alfred?
AMR: Where do I live? Sao Joao do Paraiso
PRES: And what is your source of employment? You have a firm called "Wood Salvage?" [has trouble pronouncing this]
AMR: Exotic Wood Salvage
PRES: It's based in California?
PRES: You've indicated this already, but I'm asking now for the benefit of the deputies: What are the monthly expenses of your business in the US?AMR: Monthly? For me? for my salary?
PRES: No, the total monthly administrative costs for keeping the business going.
AMR: Ah...about $25,000 per month.
PRES: Are you the only owner?
AMR: No, there are three partners.
PRES: Your business Exotic Wood Salvage deals only in wood?
AMR: Only wood
PRES: What types?
AMR: wood from other countries: Africa, Asia, Canada, a little bit of wood from Brazil
PRES: How much wood do you get from Brazil compared to, say, Canada?
AMR: There are legal limits in most cases. The wood we import is already cut into boards ready for use. It comes in through various ports.PRES: When was the first time you came here?
AMR: The first time I came here? 1975
PRES: 1975, you spent a long time here then?
AMR: No, I was only here for a short time.
PRES: So you just stayed for a short time and then returned to the US
PRES: At that time where did you travel in Brazil?
AMR: Rio, Bahia, Spirito Santo....
PRES: Did you travel to that region where you live now?
PRES: Why did you go to those areas?
AMR: I had indications from people who were involved with pernambuco at that time....
AMR: No, Brazilians
PRES: And where were they?
AMR: in Itabela
AMR: Itabela in Bahia
AMR: About 2 years ago [i.e. 2000]
PRES: How come you decided to locate in Sao Joao do Paraiso?
AMR: Well, I discovered that this area had pernambuco
PRES: So you came several times, but you finally decided to set up in Sao Joao do Paraiso specifically to buy pernambuco 2 years agoAMR: I came to buy pernambuco, but....
PRES: So you came determined to buy pernambuco for your firm Exotic Wood Salvage. And you came to Bahia to buy pernambuco in Sao Joao do Paraiso in Mascote.AMR: Yes
PRES: And how much does it cost each month to run your mill, your business in Sao Joao do Paraiso: rent, employees, everything?AMR: About $6,000 to $7,000 each month.
PRES: $6,000 or $7,000 a month. Do you know who is the owner of the farm Inveja?
AMR: Ze Preto....that's his nickname. I don't know his actual name
PRES: Ah, it's his nickname. Do you have a new contract with him?
AMR: I'm in the process of...
PRES: It's a new contract? For how many years?
AMR: I rented it for only one year
PRES: Only one year. I'm going to ask you to read this out loud for the record.
AMR: I promise to tell the truth in so far as I know it about whatever is asked of me. Yes that's true.
PRES: In your deposition to the federal police, you see, here is your signature, you declared that you had authorized you partner Nei Carlos Guiomares de Oliveira to obtain all the papers necessary for the exportation of wood. When did this relationship begin?AMR: About a year and a half ago
PRES: About a year and a half ago. Why did you feel this partnership was necessary?
AMR: I learned from a friend that Nei was in charge of a sawmill, and I wanted someone who lived nearby.
PRES: You were aware that you couldn't run a business legally yourself on the national territory of Brazil so you needed a partner who was BrazilianAMR: Yes, I knew that. I wanted to work legally.
PRES: And that's why you took Seu Nei as your partner. How much did he cost you each month?
AMR: At first nothing. I would pay his expenses, for travel....
PRES: You must have paid him something, just roughly....
AMR: At first, nothing. When we began to export wood, then I paid him US$1 for each kilo shipped.
PRES: But only for wood that left the country. If it stayed here, you didn't pay him anything.
AMR: That's right.
PRES: How many deals like this did you make with Seu Nei? You would ship wood only by air, right? to your business Exotic Wood Salvage. And where was it located?AMR: Yes, Exotic Wood Salvage, in California.
PRES: What airport did you ship from?
PRES: What documentation did you have authorizing these exports of wood?
AMR: I had sales receipts, ATPF's, health verifications, just these three.
PRES: And these documents for exporting so-called natural products...
AMR: They were from the Ibama offices in Eunapolis and Rio [the sawmill]
PRES: Seu Alfred, why did you send wood to the mill called Rio de Janeiro?
AMR: I wanted to send stumps and roots together, so I got the necessary documentation and thought it would be easier to send it from the mill Rio for export.PRES: And how many shipments did you make to the mill in Rio?[not clear he understands this is a mill, not the city, DR]
AMR: Four times
PRES: Four times? And you only sent stumps?
AMR: Stumps, roots....
PRES: (shows pictures) stumps, roots, right?
PRES: and here are photos taken of logs at your farm, right?
PRES: and some of them were cut there?
AMR: yes some of them were
PRES: According to your confession, it was Nei who made all your transactions legal. This is really interesting: Nei went to Ibama and signed all the documents for the farm you rented, and brought them to you, authorizing the wood on the farm you rented....AMR: No, I couldn't rent the farm legally.
PRES: Who rented it?
AMR: [has difficulty explaining]
PRES: It's OK. Don't get so worked up. Let's slow down.
AMR: It's difficult....
PRES: With respect, please take a glass of water. Seu Alfred, I'm only saying that you didn't rent the farm in your own name.
AMR: no, I couldn't rent it legally.
PRES: Because you were a foreigner.
AMR: No, I didn't rent it. No contract, nothing.
PRES: Who was it who rented this farm? I mean, legally speaking...
AMR: No one did. I just paid the owner about R$500 each month to look for wood, to take wood on the farm, to get stumps.
PRES: Yes, that's logical. So it was Nei who dealt with the owner - I can't remember his name - and made the rental contract.
AMR: That's right.
PRES: And so Nei applied to Ibama, and here's where our auditor comes in [indicating Couvre], at Nei's request he inspected a farm which wasn't rented by anyone, not by the owner, not by the wood dealer…but who actually paid the R$500 directly to the owner of the farm Inveja, you or Nei?AMR: I paid.
PRES: And the rental contract was in Nei's name
AMR: yes, wait, Nei you explain.
PRES: No, please stop. He's already testified about this and said no. I want to hear your position. OK, let's go here: During the last two years, how many tons of wood considered to be pernambuco and jacaranda, both together, did your business export from your farm, the farm of Seu Nei here in Brazil? Altogether…..AMR: I never shipped jacaranda, only pernambuco...about 1.8 cubic meters. The rest came to about 28,000 kilos, or 28 metric tons.
PRES: That was discovered on your farm by Ibama.
PRES: Now, we'll verify all of this through the consulate. Since there is a trade agreement between the two countries, we can examine your country's records of these transactions. And you still maintain that this was the amount of wood shipped, knowing that we can check these figures with your government….AMR: I don't understand this question.
PRES: What I mean is this: You had to make a declaration for income tax there in the States, right? A declaration of how much you paid and what you got for it? And we'll get that declaration, right? What did you pay per kilo for wood in southern Bahia and how much did you sell it for in the US?AMR: Pernambuco….
PRES: Yes, Pernambuco.
AMR: I sold it for $7 and up.
PRES: $7 per kilo in the US. And what did you pay for it here in Brazil?
AMR: R$2 per kilo
PRES: So you only paid about US$0.80 and you sold it for US$7. Then you paid US$1 to Seu Nei, or altogether US$1.80 so far. Now how much did you pay at the airport to ship it?AMR: US$1.50
PRES: You only paid US$1.50 for freight charges. So altogether US$3.30. And what did you have to pay to get the wood from the airport to your mill in the US?AMR: Look, up to now I haven't made any profit.
PRES: Did you improve the wood [i.e. cut it into boards of the appropriate size, DR] in the US?
AMR: No only here in Brazil
PRES: So you sold the wood already improved for US$7?
PRES: Now you maintain a mill here in the municipality of Mascote, right?
PRES: What's the situation of your mill in southern Bahia, in Mascote, right now with regard to Ibama?
AMR: It's closed, locked.
PRES: It's closed, locked by Ibama. And why was it closed?
AMR: Because it wasn't registered.
PRES: You knew it had to be registered.
AMR: Yes, we began the process about 15 months ago….
PRES: Who started the process, Nei?
AMR: Yes, Nei
PRES: How many employees to you have working at the mill?
AMR: How many?
PRES: Your employees. Working in the mill.
AMR: There are 14. Some of them were employed cleaning the streets, one of my projects. Another project was to create seedlings. I undertook several projects there.PRES: These seedlings of pernambuco: Were they authorized by Ibama?
PRES: So you didn't ask whether it was OK to do this? Your business depended on pernambuco. You had an illegal farm. So you planted pernambuco seedlings so you would have this wood. I suppose I have to believe you planned to grow the seedlings then cut them down and export the wood to the US.
AMR: No, that isn't what I wanted to do. My idea was that when the wood was grown [probably 30 - 40 years, DR], I would no longer be dealing in pernambuco. I discovered that for every tree harvested, there would be a stump and roots. For making stringed instruments there is no need for larger pieces.
PRES: Let's talk about this: I believe that for your operation to succeed, you needed more wood than what you could get from just the farm Inveja.AMR: The inspection of our farm included the surrounding farms.
AMR: No, that isn't what I wanted to do. My idea was that when the wood was grown [probably 30 - 40 years, DR], I would no longer be dealing in pernambuco. I discovered that for every tree harvested, there would be a stump and roots. For making stringed instruments there is no need for larger pieces.
PRES: You would buy pernambuco from your neighbors who would bring it to you. Let's talk more about the so-called stumps and roots. Everyone knew you were looking for pernambuco, so they brought it to you. Did you have short logs?AMR: Yes
PRES: You had them on the farm? You bought short logs?
PRES: Longer logs?
AMR: Logs? Yes, but they were dead wood
PRES: But it's interesting that they're not mentioned in Sr. Hevio's report: no logs
AMR: But I have a photograph with me. Do you want to see it?
PRES: This commission is going to contact forest specialists who are going to look into this question. Let's not spend time now trying to define what is dead wood and what is live, or 'verde'. Our forest engineers will take care of that
AMR: I want you to analyze all the logs, short and full length, that I have, to determine whether they 'verde' or dead, whether they have bark or not. Please, go ahead and do the analysis.PRES: Your business has 14 employees
PRES: But you know this is necessary?
AMR: Yes. I know that there are many people here who need money and are suffering from hunger. If I were Brazilian I would be ashamed that there are so many people here who are so poor. So when I set up my business, I decided to give them work. Perhaps it's against your laws, but I felt pity for them. Do you understand what I'm saying? If I had only a little money, I would give it to them.
PRES: In your country too there are quite a few people who are in great need, but I don't know of a single Brazilian who has gone to the US to engage in illegal activities exploiting the resources there so he could give money to the poor.AMR: Look, you can ask our workers whether I gave them worthy projects to carry out. Perhaps I committed a crime, but…
PRES: No, no Sr. Alfred, we are not trying to make accusations here. In Brazil there are many foreigners, and Brazilians too, who give work to the poor but they operate legallyAMR: I always wanted to do business legally….
PRES: ….Let me ask you whether you know anything about the activities of Arcos de Brasil, Horst John, Waterviolet, and Arcos Marco Raposo. Do you know anything about their activities?AMR: I met them recently. As of three weeks ago I hadn't met any of them.
PRES: But now you know them.
PRES: Wasn't there a meeting, I forget the name of this meeting, in the US, of users of pernambuco and several Brazilian companies? Were the companies I just cited involved in this meeting? And your company too, Exotic Wood Salvage?AMR: Yes
PRES: And they were giving courses and workshops for users of pernambuco and jacaranda? Yes or no?
AMR: No, this congress was for the purpose of discussing an organization created three years ago to protect pernambuco and how to create an organization in Brazil that could manage this protection.PRES: to protect pernambuco. Do these organizations also export pernambuco?
AMR: I think they are exporting
PRES: A little or a lot?
AMR: I think quite a bit.
PRES: Those 30 tons of yours, was this more or less than they were exporting?
AMR: I don't know how much exactly. I think I'm exporting much less than they are.
PRES: Much less than they are. Their stocks are larger than yours?
AMR: I think so. I never visited them, so I don't know.
PRES: And where are they located? In Brazil? In which state?
AMR: In Spirito Santo.
PRES: On November 9, 2002, Ibama apprehended 41 tons of wood, including pernambuco, jacaranda, among others in Sao Joao do Paraiso in the municipality of Mascote. Was this wood from your property?AMR: Yes, but it was not 42 tons, it was 17 cubic meters.
PRES: Where did this wood come from?
AMR: Origin? It came from the farm Inveja. That was the stock I had. It's documented in the inspection reports.
PRES: You realize that because we're concerned about the accuracy of Dr. Hevio's report, we are going to ask for a new, independent, thorough investigation by a team independent from Ibama, of the farm Inveja. Everything will be made clear. So you realize the consequences of giving false testimony here…that means 'to lie.'AMR: I've only been telling the truth
PRES: You understand what it means 'to lie'
PRES: [shows a document] look, here is your signature. [reads:] "39 tons of short and long logs". And here is your signature [pointing]. Wait, I'll give it to you in a moment….AMR: That's not my signature.
PRES: Whose is it?
AMR: That's my manager's.
AMR: I was here in Brasilia when this all happened.
PRES: [reads:] 39 tons of jacaranda, pernambuco - short and long logs.
PRES: OK, so clearly Dr. Hevio's report is not correct. Now I'm going to ask another question. [passes AMR this new document]AMR: But this is not my signature
PRES: But it's your manager's. All the same. [reads from Dr. Hevio's report] 'wood of the species jacaranda and pernambuco' but it doesn't say anything about logs, short or long. Did you pay anything to Dr. Hevio for this report about your wood? Do you know if Seu Nei, your agent here in Brazil, paid anything to Dr. Hevio to prepare this report?AMR: No
PRES: You only met Dr. Hevio when he came to do his inspection?
AMR: I only saw him when he came to inspect the first time.
PRES: Did you introduce yourself to him?
AMR: Yes, when he came the first time.
PRES: So you recognize the signature of your agent there, 39 tons of pernambuco, short and long logs. And it came from your farm.
AMR: Yes, it was mixed with wood from the other neighboring farms. Remember what I said before…?
PRES: logs, short logs
AMR: yes, longer logs, shorter logs, material of wood - dead.
PRES: long logs and short logs; and the authorization was for stumps and roots.
AMR: for wooden material that was already dead.
PRES: And the ATPF's, what was written on them? The authorization for transporting the wood?
AMR: I don't remember.
PRES: Seu Alfred, the ATPF's authorized transport of stumps and roots of pernambuco and jacaranda. Did you buy any green wood?
AMR: When? During the last 2 two years? Green wood? No.
PRES: You never bought green wood?
AMR: No, I never bought, I never wanted to buy green wood.
PRES: Did you have any other businesses in the US or Europe other than Exotic Wood Salvage?
PRES: And in Brazil you had only one partner, Seu Nei?
AMR: Right, only Nei.
PRES: Now to whom did you sell pernambuco?
AMR: In the US? To whoever came to our shop, our storehouse.
PRES: How many times did you ship wood to the US?
AMR: Just pernambuco? I think seven or eight times. I don't know exactly.
PRES: Do you know anything about trading in green pernambuco?
AMR: No, I know it's happening, but I'm not involved at all.
PRES: Where might it be going on? What places? Which municipalities?
AMR: Near my home there's pernambuco, and I know….
PRES: You mean in southern Bahia? They're cutting wood and exporting it?
AMR: Yes. Green wood is going out.
PRES: Now I need to have you tell me the names.
AMR: I can't. I don't know them. I'm not involved.
PRES: Maybe you heard about them.
AMR: No, I don't know them. I'm not involved. I just know they're taking wood and it's leaving Bahia.
PRES: You know that you've committed some illegal acts, right? Some errors. Do you know what I mean by "coisas erradas"? [illegal things, DR]AMR: Things that I did?
PRES: Yes, things you did here in Brazil.
AMR: You said that I had a lumber mill that wasn't registered, for one thing.
PRES: A foreigner cannot conduct business until his status becomes legal. You know that.
AMR: Now I know it.
PRES: But when you first came to Brazil you didn't know this. When did you actually find out that you can't conduct business until your status is normalized? When you wanted to get married? When you tried to speed up obtaining your permanent visa? When did you find out?AMR: When you locked up my mill.
PRES: When the mill was locked. Aside from this issue, you exported pernambuco without documentation. What documents are required for export by Brazilian law? I'm asking Dr. Luciano.LME: There has to be authorization from CITES issued by Ibama
AMR: No, that's wrong.
PRES: Authorization of CITES.
LME: Authorization from CITES issued by Ibama. Anyone wanting to transport wood threatened by extinction has to have authorization to exportAMR: No, excuse me.
PRES: No, no, Sir. We'll come to agreement about this later…And without this, it's not possible to export.
LME: Not wood threatened with extinction.
PRES: I understand, you have to have CITES….
AMR: I think….
PRES: [doesn't let Raubitschek get a word in] You were involved in trafficking in mahogany in your business?
PRES: Mahogany, No?
AMR: No, never. I was looking for….
PRES: You went to Altamira?
PRES: Doing what?
AMR: I was doing some research on scrap branches of mahogany.
PRES: Which Indian villages did you visit?
PRES: You never visited these villages.
AMR: Never. I actually went to meet with Ibama there about the idea of using even the mahogany branches and scraps; and it was a really good idea. They said they would support me. Yes, that's what they said. And also….PRES: [tries to break in]
AMR: I have to say something else. Dr. Luciano has done research on wood, but pernambuco is not included in CITES.
PRES: Only jacaranda.
LME: Mr. President, our plant specialist can check on this now.
PRES: Let's take a moment to do this.
LME: [consults with a technical specialist] OK, according to the information from the technical area of Ibama, pernambuco is not included in the CITES appendix, OK? But it cannot be exported in any form according to the resolution of CONAMA (National Council for the Environment), and authorization for any manner of extracting this species is prohibited.AMR: Excuse me. You need to see the new law…
PRES: Sustained, sustained….
PRES: We don't need challenges and charges here. We'll get this clarified when Dr. Luciano sends for the resolution of CONAMA. Also, it seems you committed another crime by exporting wood that was prohibited from export.AMR: No, Excuse me….
PRES: How did you export it? From the airport in Ilheus? What did you do?
AMR: I sent it in packages with federal sales receipts, the inspection report, all the documentation.
PRES: What documentation did you present?
AMR: Would you like to see?
PRES: No, please, just tell me what…
AMR: The ATPF, the sales receipt, the health certificate. Just those three documents.
PRES: The ATPF which said it was Nei's wood
PRES: The receipt with Nei's name and the address of your home.
PRES: And the health certificate. Where did you get that?
AMR: Ibama in Ilheus
PRES: You affirmed …
AMR: But I didn't….
PRES: Let's not try to complicate Nei's situation…that's all this will do. You affirmed that the sales receipt was from Nei, and the address and ATPF, and it was your wood.AMR: I think the wood in reality is his wood.
PRES: No, no. That's not it. Don't lie, only say what you know to be true, as you've done up to now. You can't lie here.
AMR: I'm not lying.
PRES: All that can do is make Seu Nei's life more complicated. I'll ask this another way. You exported the wood only for yourself…AMR: OK, let me explain…there's something you have to know….
PRES: No, we'll find out, we'll find out….I'll ask again, you exported for yourself wood which, when it arrived at the Ilheus airport, came with a sales receipt, ATPF, and health certificate, as you said. The sales receipt came with the name of Nei as a physical person, with your address, with your false addressAMR: No, no….
PRES: False because you weren't living there. Were you living there? Did you have a business there?
AMR: No…[tries to say something]
PRES: [interrupts] Ok, you weren't living there. Second, that ATPF came with Nei's name, but the mill is yours. But the wood was never yours.AMR: [agrees grudgingly] That's right.
PRES: Did at least the health certificate have your name?
AMR: It had the name of the lumber mill…
PRES: of Nei, or the name of Nei….
PRES: Yes, but the mill was authorized in Bahia to export wood from Ilheus, the Ilheus airport. You're also affirming that Nei was lying to this CPI when he said at first that he never worked for anyone else, but that he was licensed to export, when in fact he didn't have a license for the entire process including export. (you couldn't export legally yourself). Nei issued false receipts, just as Seu Amarildo here [points to his left] claimed, so he could export wood for you. All you did was buy the wood. This whole operation was set up so Nei could export your wood for you, free of any restrictions, that had come to him, with an ATPF bearing his name, the actual person receiving it at an address where he didn't live.AMR: I don't understand
PRES: I'll try to explain again. You affirmed in your written statement that Sr. Nei, Nei Carlos Guiomares de Oliveira, lied to this CPI when he said he was simply facilitating negotiations for you. He never said the lumber mill was his, he always said it was yours. But it's now established that he was used in order to legally ship to the US, for you, wood that was his. That's the point.AMR: Yes.
PRES: So you're sure about this.
AMR: I think, if I understand correctly….
PRES: I can explain it again in other words.
AMR: You're trying to say….
PRES: You know, what you can't do here is lie. Lying is not possible.
AMR: I'm not going to lie….
PRES: But I understand that you're not lying. What I'm saying is that you were exporting wood that was yours from a business that was yours, but with false documents that you knew about.AMR: False? Which documents?….
PRES: Because the wood carried the name of Nei, the mill had the name of Nei, the health certificate carried the name of Nei, the ATPF was Nei's [hesitates, then, emphatically pointing], but the wood was yours.AMR: OK, I provided money to buy the wood, yes.
PRES: So you agree that Sr. Nei was not only a facilitator, Sr. Nei was actually your Brazilian arm transforming an illegal operation to conform with Brazilian law, because as an American you couldn't do business here - let's put aside the question of pernambuco which we still have to define - with Nei as your front man. So you used Nei not just to obtain licenses, but also to export wood that wasn't his. It was yours. There's a term in Brazilian law called 'false logic' which means doing something you know to be illegal. And you knew this, so I'm going to ask you a question. You did this knowing that Brazilian law doesn't allow you to sell for yourself or to export for yourself. First because you're a foreigner, second, because this transaction is completely outside the rules. You can't sell, you can't export for yourself. Seu Nei received one dollar per kilo as his payment for sending your wood to your business in the US.AMR: I think….I can't answer further. I'm very confused.
PRES: We can take all the time you need to take care of all your confusion. [AMR keeps trying to speak] If you need an interpreter, we'll provide one.
AMR: I'll explain. I obtained the wood, I cut the wood. Nei had a mill and we arranged for the inspections of our legal wood, legal wood, OK? He had his own mill that was authorized to export wood. His business has authorization to export wood, OK?
PRES: I am still convinced that…I'm going to allow you [addressing Dep. Asdrubal Bentes] to speak because your interventions are always full of good ideas.
DEP. ASDRUBAL BENTES: I think it's been made more than clear what happened. It's all written in the documents we have. In popular language this man [indicating Nei] was the 'orange', the arranger, the front man. And this foreigner [indicating Raubitschek] doesn't have a permanent visa and consequently can't do business in Brazil, and even less abroad. I know what he did. He took advantage of Nei's firm to commit the crime. There's nothing more to discuss, except to look into the question of dealing in pernambuco. The nature of the illegality has already been perfectly characterized as far as I'm concerned. What we need to know now is the quantity of wood involved in this deal, whether legally or illegally, so we can pass it on altogether to the proper authorities: to the Minister of Justice. Our job is only to determine the facts and send this information to the Minister of Justice. I have no doubt that everything has been made perfectly clear [indicating another deputy on his right], and there's no reason to spend so much time trying to characterize the actions of the front man and his boss. It's perfectly clear what actually happened. We need to learn now what was exported illegally, in what quantity, to where, with whom. For this we need to follow whatever method this commission decides.PRES: I'd like to respond to the Dep. Asdrubal's question….
DEP. ASDRUBAL BENTES: [interrupts] We're stuck in the tedious process of trying to determine the sex of an angel. We already know that Nei's firm was used so he could export not only pernambuco, but other types of wood as well. That was the first crime.PRES: Yes
DEP. ASDRUBAL BENTES: Now it remains for us to find out what quantity of pernambuco was exported, whether it was legal or illegal…PRES: [interrupts]
DEP. ASDRUBAL BENTES: But it's OK to mention these things: we need to find out how much, more or less. Let's not lose more time with this [pointing toward Nei and Alfred]; let's go further.
PRES: Mr. Deputy, the intention of this president regarding your point, we have a chance here with Seu Nei in this specific case and Seu Alfred, from this point of view: I assume there were in fact illegal activities. It is of interest to this commission that there is widespread scheming in the trafficking in animals and in this specific case, pernambuco. There are some foreigners who come here to do these things. Wood….DEP. ASDRUBAL BENTES: Many times with the cover provided by the Brazilian government itself.
PRES: Of course. But with wood, here we're dealing with a specific type of wood, and we're not talking of making arrests, but there will need to be other preventive measures. Regarding pernambuco, there are businesses that are actually doing this in an effective way. In discovering this conspiracy, we know it must involve inspectors and agronomists themselves [points toward Hevio on his left] of Ibama. We need to learn whether it involves the postal service or the port or airport authorities - and they must be involved because it isn't so difficult - and the postal authorities as well. It's a unique opportunity that we have to remove the blindfold that has prevented us from seeing what difficulties in our system make it easier for these things to occur, in this case with specific kinds of wood, pernambuco and jacaranda. If it's the postal service, that's one thing; if it's the airports or the ports, that's something else. These are all various possibilities that surround the answers we're looking for. And it's all happening because for pieces of wood this size [indicates about a meter] it only costs about US$4 per kilo to export, so that these violin bows can sell for US$5000 or more abroad. Dep. Asdrubal, do you have another question?
DEP. ASDRUBAL BENTES: I agree with your Excellency. We have answered our call in this matter. But where is all this information going to be sent? It should go to the Attorney General and to the federal police for investigation.
PRES: For sure, that's what we will do. Seu Alfred and Seu Nei lied to this commission. We will send on all the aspects this presidency finds most important. Everyone will have complete liberty to say whatever they feel is important to answer those questions the deputies feel are most important. [summons the commission's secretary] As I said, there is the possibility that there was a conspiracy formed, reaching even to the United States, because your firm is there [looking at Raubitschek] with a specific purpose, to use pernambuco to make violin bows.
I don't know, Sr. Hevio, about your involvement, but we are applying to Ibama for a new inspection of the farm Inveja and its related business to see if the quantity stored, declared and exported by Sr. Alfred could have been drawn from there on the basis of your reports. Depending on what is determined, this commission may have to take further action in your case [indicating Hevio].
Further, regarding Seu Amarildo, we are sending Seu Nei over to the federal police to examine the questions of Nei's possible criminal actions and false testimony to this commission. We're recommending to the Attorney General that this American citizen [indicating Raubitschek], claiming not to know about the Brazilian law prohibiting commercial activity by foreigners and wishing to give work to poor Brazilians, formed a conspiracy to extract and export pernambuco; and we're asking the American embassy to impound all the Brazilian wood held [presumably in California] by Exotic Wood Salvage.
And we're asking the Attorney General to make sure that Seu Alfred doesn't leave this country until this entire process is resolved. I would like to notify the deputies that this commission may once again be called into session at any time should new facts regarding these matters arise. I want to assure all those involved of their absolute liberty to say anything they feel is important about what they have done.
Seu Alfred, I hope you will not attempt to flee in any manner, or present false testimony as to why you might not be able to attend, as did Seu Osmaren, another foreigner, from Amazonia, also called by this commission to testify.AMR: [starts to say something]
PRES: Don't worry. He's someone else, another foreigner.
PRES: And Seu Hevio, after a new determination is made, you may be called back, after we compare the new report with your earlier ones.
Seu Amarildo, please make all of your documents and videos available so all the members of the commission can consider them carefully. We're not appropriating these materials; the CPI will take good care of them, and we'll be happy to return them to you, once our work is finished.
Seu Nei, you will be going to the federal police now and we will send to the Attorney General for investigation accusations about the formation of a conspiracy by Seu Nei, your activity in falsifying receipts and other documents, and if you are shown to be innocent, Seu Nei, which I think is rather complicated in this specific case, you will have our support also.Unless there is something else, we will adjourn. Dep. Asdrubal, do you have another lesson for us?
DEP. ASDRUBAL BENTES: [indicating Nei and Amarildo] About sending them to the federal police….
PRES: Yes, that's where they're going right now.
DEP. ASDRUBAL BENTES:: Yes, these two men are being sent to the federal police. But under what conditions? After all, their positions are completely opposite: one coming here to cooperate with the commission, the other not.PRES: [keeps trying to get a word in]
DEP. ASDRUBAL BENTES: [keeps insisting on his point]
PRES: Not at all, in my official view everything has been made clear.
[tape ends here]
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