The Federal Supreme Court (STF) reversed its own decision and acquitted former federal deputy Paulinho da Força (Solidarity) in a case of alleged involvement in a scheme to embezzle values in contracts from the National Bank for Economic and Social Development (BNDES) .
The ministers accepted the defense’s arguments regarding lack of evidence, reversing the 2020 conviction by the First Panel of the court that sentenced him to 10 years and 2 months in prison.
Paulinho was denounced by the Attorney General’s Office (PGR) on suspicion of being involved in three loans from BNDES totaling R$524 million. The defense denied the accusations, arguing that there was no loss to the bank.
The trial, held in the virtual plenary, was interrupted in June after a request for a review from Minister Dias Toffoli. The majority of ministers voted for acquittal, including Alexandre de Moraes, Gilmar Mendes, André Mendonça, Cristiano Zanin, Kassio Nunes Marques and Toffoli himself.
The president of the STF and rapporteur of the action, Luís Roberto Barroso, and ministers Edson Fachin and Luiz Fux voted to maintain the conviction, excluding the gang crime due to the statute of limitations, reducing the sentence to 8 years and 2 months in prison.
Barroso considered that the 2020 ruling was clear and demonstrated the existence of the value misappropriation scheme. Moraes, however, voted to dismiss the criminal action, citing a lack of sufficient evidence for conviction.
“The examination of the evidence does not, without a doubt, indicate the defendant’s participation in criminal conduct, using his influence to appoint people who could carry out the deviations in favor of the group and benefiting from these deviations”, he wrote.
The STF’s decision paves the way for Paulinho to return to the Chamber of Deputies, since the Superior Electoral Court (TSE) revoked the mandate of federal deputy Marcelo de Lima Fernandes (PSB-SP), allowing Paulinho, who remained as a substitute, to resume the position. The TSE understood that Fernandes left Solidariedade without just cause.