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Tuesday, February 7, 2023
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TCU minister holds case that harms group for which his son is a lawyer

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Minister Aroldo Cedraz has delayed the judgment of a case at the TCU (Union Court of Auditors) that could harm the business group that is attended by his son, lawyer Tiago Cedraz. The evaluation in the energy sector is that the degree of kinship raises doubts about conflict of interest, and that the minister should have declared himself unable to participate in the trial of the case.

The process in question was opened after questions from the government of Santa Catarina, which requests the annulment of an emergency energy auction, called PCS (Simplified Competitive Procedure). The price paid for energy is far above average and, according to projections, raises the electricity bill by almost R$ 40 billion.

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The event validated 17 plants in October last year, with different capacities and amounts to be received. Almost half, almost R$ 18 billion, would be allocated to four projects by Ámbar, an energy company controlled by J&F, which also owns JBS, the world’s largest meat producer.

Tiago Cedraz defends J&F, the holding company that controls the group’s companies, in at least one dispute, the dispute for Eldorado Brasil Celulose.

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In the court of accounts, the action of Santa Catarina entered the agenda for the first time in August. At the time, Aroldo asked for a review (more time to analyze the case) even before the trial started. Afterwards, the discussion of the process was scheduled on five dates, but the minister was not present in the plenary on any of them, and the controversy was not debated.

According to Sheet As it turned out, the minister’s office informs internally that he is very interested in evaluating issues that deal with consumer rights and has no agenda to dedicate himself to the case as he would like, as he intends to treat the issue with due rigor.

According to the conflict of interest law and article 144 of the Civil Code, which also deals with the subject, a judge, a position similar to that of a TCU minister, cannot act in a process in which the interested party receives legal services from the judge himself. , your spouse or a relative up to the third degree. Son is a first-degree relative.

Experts in administrative law, an area that deals with relations between public managers and private entities, heard by the report, assess that there is a conflict of interest in this case, because even though Eldorado and Ámbar are companies from different sectors, Tiago is related to the holding company that operates for the interests of all companies in the group.

The report contacted TCU and J&F advisors, as well as Tiago Cedraz, but did not receive a response until the publication of this text.

As shown to Sheetlawyers from Tiago’s office have already acted in at least 182 actions in the court of accounts, including at the time when Aroldo was president of the court.

The minister’s son was already investigated in Lava Jato in 2017 on suspicion of receiving bribes to intermediate the hiring of an American company by Petrobras and the target of search and seizure in an operation that investigated an alleged illegal scheme of influence peddling with System entities. S from Rio de Janeiro.

It also responded to a lawsuit at the TCU itself after the owner of UTC Participações, Ricardo Pessoa, claimed in a plea bargain that he had made monthly payments to Tiago so that he would pass on information to the court. The lawyer would also have received R$ 1 million to act in a case at TCU that, in the end, benefited UTC.

The investigations against him were shelved.

In the action presented to the court, the governor of Santa Catarina, Carlos Moisés, claims that the average prices set in the PCS are about eight times higher than the average of other auctions.

“This distinction, in turn, has the effect of generating an impact on the final consumer that exceeds R$ 40 billion, with tariff impacts of more than 4.5% on all consumers in the country”, says the Chief Executive of Santa Catarina.

Rapporteur of the process, Minister Benjamin Zymler understands that the considerations of the government of Santa Catarina are relevant and that the costs of the emergency auction are harmful to the energy consumer. His conclusion is that all contracts should be reviewed by the MME (Ministry of Mines and Energy).

For the projects that were delayed, Zymler defends what is foreseen in the rules of the auction, the automatic cancellation of the contracts. For those who delivered on time, he suggests an amicable termination.

The MME has an identical rating. Minister Adolfo Sachsida has already publicly declared that he supports suspending contracts for these overdue thermal plants. On October 28, he initiated a public consultation to obtain suggestions on how to reach an amicable termination of contracts with companies that delivered PCS projects on time. Sachsida would like to resolve the issue before leaving office.

It is at this point that the TCU minister’s request for views causes discomfort.

The J&F group plants have been involved since May in a controversial process at Aneel (National Electric Energy Agency). The group did not deliver the projects within the period provided for in the contract, and is waiting for the regulator to reassess its arguments for the delay within a mechanism known as exclusion of responsibility.

The company also requested a technical change that, in practice, would make the delivery of the four projects more flexible. Both decisions could change the status of J&F projects from late to on schedule.

According to experts consulted by the Sheetwith the condition that their names are not revealed, the delay in the judgment at the TCU gives the company time to try to reverse the risk of canceling contracts at the agency and also for its lawyers to assess the best way to go to court, if they are unable to do so. reverse the decision at Aneel.

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