Irritation gripped Covid’s CPI room last Thursday. After hours of testimony, government senators and oppositionists still did not understand how a corporal from the Military Police of Minas Gerais, who claimed to have started selling supplies and medicines a year and a half ago, had been responsible for a billion-dollar business offer that placed the federal government in the sights of yet another investigation.
This police officer was Luiz Paulo Dominghetti Pereira, 44 years old. He told the commission that he had an agreement with Davati Medical Supply, from the United States: if he managed to agree the sale of 400 million doses of the immunizing agent Astrazeneca, he would receive up to 5 cents per dose sold. This would mean that he could pocket, just for making a bridge between the government and the distributors, the sum of US$ 20 million, which is equivalent to R$ 100 million at the current exchange rate.
Not bad for a public servant in financial difficulties, married and father of three, who acknowledged before the senators that he was the target of a lawsuit for non-payment of rents. “I’m not ashamed, because sometimes we have to make choices: either I pay the rent or I put food in the house,” he told the CPI.
Dominghetti was already an anti-PT and Bolsonaro supporter more than a year before the election of the president, as his Facebook profile shows. But he told the CPI that he had never had contact with the government until the end of last year, when he opened two channels of dialogue with the Ministry of Health.
One of them was Senah (National Secretariat for Humanitarian Affairs), an entity chaired by an evangelical pastor that had been offering Johnson and Astrazeneca vaccines to the federal government and city halls. The other link, according to Dominghetti, was Marcelo Blanco da Costa, a retired army colonel who worked in the ministry until January.
Colonel Blanco, as he is known, was an advisor to the Ministry’s DLOG (Department of Health Logistics). It was his boss, then director of DLOG Roberto Ferreira Dias, whom Dominghetti accused of having taken a bribe at a dinner in Brasília, on February 25th. Dias confirms the meeting, but denies the accusation.
Dominghetti says he made contact with Blanco through a sales representative with whom he had closed a drug sale deal last year. To the CPI, he said that he only remembers the first name of this interlocutor. “We came to Colonel Blanco through a commercial partner named Odilon,” he said. The policeman did not give details, however, of how he approached Senah.
Dominghetti testified to the CPI already knowing that he was the target of an investigation by the Minas Gerais Military Police. In a statement released the day before, the corporation stated that it will investigate a possible violation of the Code of Ethics, which “considers a disciplinary offense against active military personnel who participate in a commercial firm or industrial company of any nature or exercise paid function or employment therein “. The infraction is classified as medium in nature.
In the same statement, the PM gave details of Dominghetti’s career. He reported that he worked in the military office of Governor Romeu Zema (Novo), in Belo Horizonte, from August 2019 to December 2020, where he was building security, but ended up being dismissed “for not meeting the necessary profile of action in the sector”.
Dominghetti began his career in April 1999 and is currently fighting in court against a decision that prevented him from enrolling in a training course for sergeants. The policeman lives in Três Corações, in the south of the state, but works in the Alfenas battalion, almost 100 km away.
Posts about his work in the PM, usually accompanied by everyone who appears in uniform, were a recurrent theme on his Facebook profile, which has been stopped since July of last year. In addition to pocketbook publications, the social network also reveals details of Dominghetti’s personal life: he is an amateur cook, a Kardecist spiritist and a São Paulo fan (despite living with his family in Minas, he was born in São Paulo).
O UOL tried to get more details about Dominghetti from his father, lawyer and journalist Paulo César Pereira. Pereira declined the interview, but helped to clarify a doubt about the spelling of his son’s surname. All CPI documents, in addition to part of those involved in legal proceedings, identify the police officer as “Dominguetti”. According to the father, however, the correct spelling is with “gh”.
Dominghetti’s life was turned upside down last Tuesday, when he made the accusation against Dias in an interview with Folha de S.Paulo newspaper. Called to testify in just over 24 hours, he surprised the senators by presenting an audio of Congressman Luis Miranda (DEM-DF) and declaring that he would be “trying to negotiate a vaccine”. A week earlier, Miranda had said she had warned Bolsonaro of irregularities in the contract to purchase the Indian vaccine Covaxin.
The initiative to show the audio exasperated opposition lawmakers. Senator Rogério Carvalho (PT-SE) even raised the suspicion that Dominghetti “was planted to disqualify one of the main lines of investigation of the CPI”. Luis Miranda, who was in Congress, stormed into the commission room to plead with the policeman. Then, he stated that the audio was about the sale of surgical gloves and registered a transcription of the material in a registry office, to reinforce his version.
Dominghetti said to senators that he had had access to the audio, days before, through Cristiano Alberto Carvalho, representative of Davati in Brazil. He also claimed that he only showed the recording because he “couldn’t miss the truth” when asked who would have tried to negotiate vaccines on behalf of Davati. It was he himself, however, who raised this suspicion without mentioning Miranda’s name, which led Senator Humberto Costa (PT-PE) to ask who it was.
Senators were also dissatisfied with Dominghetti’s explanations about negotiating with the government. It seemed strange to everyone that Davati, which many had not known until then, was able to deliver to the government 400 million doses of Astrazeneca, a vaccine disputed on the world market.
When asked about details of how the deal would be made possible, the police officer stated that this should be dealt with by Davati and Cristiano Carvalho. His formal work with the distributor, according to him, only started in April. When he met with former director Roberto Dias at the restaurant in Brasília, therefore, Dominghetti would only have an informal relationship with Davati, something he called a “gentlemen’s agreement”.
To the UOL lawyer Flávio Correa de Moraes, who represents Dominghetti, reaffirmed what the client told the CPI. Regarding Luis Miranda’s accusation, he stated that the audio does not make it clear that it was a negotiation of surgical gloves, as the deputy claims. And stated that “although he [Dominghetti] has misunderstood” the content of the material, it “cannot be used to discredit it”.
The defender also repudiated the opposition’s suspicion that he was “planted” to disqualify Miranda and the CPI testimony against Bolsonaro. “Well, he was beaten up so much from the government wing. That in itself already shows that the truth collated by my client did not please. The plot of putting him as a planted witness is as elusive as it is surreal,” he said.
Regarding the PM investigations, which determine whether Dominghetti committed a disciplinary offense, Moraes says that there were no irregularities in his performance. “The text here [o Código de Ética da PM de Minas] prohibits appearing as a partner in the share capital of a company, a fact that never occurred. As for having a paid job, this was not a fixed job, I worked in off hours as a representative”, defends the lawyer.
Davati was also asked about the circumstances of the deal. In a statement, the company says that it was not in possession of the 400 million doses offered to the government, but that it was the bridge between the ministry “and an allocation holder, a company that had vaccine credits with the AstraZeneca laboratory”. Regarding the ability to deliver, Davati says that the proposal sent to the government detailed step by step the execution of the business. Davati also reiterated that the company’s only representative in Brazil is Cristiano Carvalho.