General lobbyist of mining company accused by MPF was received 18 times in Planalto

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Reserve general Cláudio Barroso Magno Filho, who worked as a lobbyist for the mining company Potássio do Brasil, visited the Planalto Palace at least 18 times during the Jair Bolsonaro (PL) government. That means one visit every two months and five days on average.

The data integrates a table of records of visits to the Planalto provided to the Sheet by the GSI (Institutional Security Office) of the Presidency based on a request based on the LAI (Access to Information Law). The survey was also carried out on public agendas of palace ministries.

Potássio do Brasil is accused by the MPF (Federal Public Ministry) of coopting indigenous Mura people for mineral exploration in the Amazon — more specifically in the region of Autazes (AM), between the Madeira and Amazon rivers.

The company came to operate within the traditional territory, according to the action of the MPF. An agreement, validated by the Federal Court, specified that indigenous people must be formally consulted, following ILO (International Labor Organization) parameters. Until that happens, the environmental license cannot be granted.

In the midst of obstacles to the exploration of potash in the Amazon, the reserve general started to work at Palácio do Planalto — especially with the military who dispatch in different ministries.

Magno Filho is from the same class as Bolsonaro at Aman (Military Academy of Agulhas Negras), the 1977, and has a close relationship with the vice president, Hamilton Mourão (Republicans).

“The survey is correct. I have a link in support of Potássio do Brasil, I am not hired and I have been in government agencies. There was an approach between Potássio and government agencies, an effort to convince,” the general told Sheet.

The exploitation of potash in the Amazon was used as a pretext by Bolsonaro to try to advance the bill that allows mining on indigenous lands. The president tried to take advantage of episodes of fertilizer shortages, due to the war between Russia and Ukraine, to defend the text.

In March, the Chamber of Deputies even approved the urgency of the project, in an initiative led by the president of the House, Arthur Lira (PP-AL), and by the center. The project has not yet been voted on.

The general denies, however, any type of influence peddling, taking advantage of the relationship maintained with the president or “shortening paths”. “I didn’t get here lobbying, and I’ve never been involved in anything shady. I believe in the Potássio do Brasil project,” he said.

In addition to his tour of the Plateau, General Magno Filho was in the Chamber of Deputies (at least once, in 2019) and in Funai (National Indian Foundation).

One of the branches of the foundation visited by the general is the General Coordination of Environmental Licensing, sought after when the company’s release was blocked. When there is an impact of an enterprise on indigenous lands, Funai needs to be consulted.

The data provided show that Adriano Espeschit, president of Potássio do Brasil, was also in the Environmental Licensing Coordination.

At Planalto, the military man addressed the Vice-Presidency, the GSI, the Civil House and the General Secretariat. There are no records of meetings with Magno Filho in the agendas made public on those days.

On June 15, 2021, for example, the general was in the Civil House, when it was commanded by General Luiz Ramos (the destination was the “special advisory”). Magno Filho spent almost four hours in the Planalto.

The following day, he was at the Vice-Presidency’s Advisory Board on Institutional Issues, headed by Colonel Carlos Sucha. The visit was repeated five times, in July, October, November and January.

In a note, the Vice-Presidency stated that Magno Filho, “whenever he came to Brasília, made an ‘opportunity visit’ to Colonel Sucha, due to the bonds of friendship and companionship built throughout his life”. “On the dates mentioned, he was received in an unofficial meeting, as a friend and companion, not being included in the official agenda”, says the text.

Also according to the Vice-Presidency, there is no “materiality” of any impact of these informal meetings on public activity processes. “He was always oriented to make official requests for a hearing to address issues of public interest,” the note states.

Another soldier authorized the general’s access to the Planalto: Colonel José Placídio Matias, responsible for advising on strategic matters for the GSI executive secretary. This visit took place on June 21, 2021 and lasted almost all afternoon.

The table also records visits to the Vice-Presidency’s media office; to the Executive Secretary of the Civil House; and to the office of the General Secretariat, on September 2, 2021 — when General Ramos had already been transferred to this ministry.

Public agendas record three meetings between Magno Filho and Mourão in 2019, two of which he was accompanied by Stan Bharti, “president of the Forbes & Manhattan group”, as stated in one of the agendas.

The general is described either as “an advisor to the Forbes & Manhattan group”, or as “Brazilian vice president of the Brasil Potássio project”. Potássio do Brasil is a venture of the Canadian bank Forbes & Manhattan.

A report published in February by Agência Pública revealed that the military was lobbying for Potássio do Brasil.

On March 28, 2022, Bharti was in a meeting with President Bolsonaro. Also present were the then Minister of Agriculture, Tereza Cristina, and the president of Potássio do Brasil, Adriano Espeschit. The agenda does not record the presence of Magno Filho.

The Presidency, the Civil House, the GSI, the General Secretariat and Funai did not respond to the questions in the report.

Public agendas also record meetings between the general and Filipe Martins, the president’s special advisor, in October 2019; with the then Deputy Chief for Legal Affairs of the General Secretariat, Jorge Oliveira, now Minister of the TCU, also in 2019; and with the executive secretary of the GSI, General Carlos José Russo Penteado, on the 27th.

When contacted, Forbes & Manhattan did not respond.

Potássio do Brasil, on the other hand, stated that the general is not hired by the company and that in 2019 he accompanied the “chairman of Brazil Potash Corp” in a meeting with Mourão.

It is legitimate to be on the Plateau. I have many friends there

The company’s president’s visit to Funai sought to discuss ECI issues (study of indigenous component), together with the PPI team (Partnership and Investment Program) and without the presence of the general, according to Potássio do Brasil, which denies having dealt with environmental license.

“This type of conduct, of co-opting indigenous people, is not consistent with the conduct of Potássio do Brasil. The company has always worked within the law and consulted official bodies on pertinent matters,” he said.

According to Potássio do Brasil, the consultation with the Mura people began in 2019, due to the agreement in the Federal Court, and the company is awaiting an installation license.

Magno Filho stated that his real bond is with Forbes & Manhattan and it started with having worked in a Canadian company. “Because I am Brazilian, I was asked to help in the government relationship. And I worked focused on what we are seeing in the war [entre Rússia e Ucrânia]. The project there in the Amazon is a possibility.”

The military man said that he also worked on the Belo Sun gold exploration project, in Pará, another Forbes & Manhattan venture, and that he is currently away from that project.

“I have been an entrepreneur in the private sector for 15 years, and they were looking for a profile like mine, of strategic consulting. I was hired by Forbes & Manhattan, and today I am without a contract, negotiating with them. I don’t do it for free”, said the general. . “It’s legitimate to be in the Planalto, I have many friends there. Several entries were to chat with friends.”

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