President of Bolsonaro’s right-wing Liberal Party is a partner of the coordinator of the “Mining is Cool Movement” (Movimento Garimpo é Legal)
Valdemar Costa Neto sold part of his farm to Francisco Jonivaldo Mota Campos, who represents a Dutch company, whose partners have been convicted of ponzi schemes and international drug trafficking.
By Tonsk Fialho and Alceu Luís Castilho
Chairman of the political party of Jair Bolsonaro (PL, Liberal Party), Valdemar Costa Neto is a partner at Agropecuária Patauá, a company that sells wood and conducts agricultural and livestock activities. During his third term as federal delegate, in 2000, Valdemar sold 75% of Patauá to a group of Dutch investors, Eco Brasil BV, represented by Brazilian Francisco Jonivaldo Mota Campos. Today, “Joni”, as he is known, works as coordinator of the “Garimpo É Legal Movement” in the state of Amazonas. He has also been a member of the Liberal Party since 2007.
In Europe (Netherlands) Eco Brasil BV acquired a stake in Valdemar’s company through its subsidiary Reflorestadora Holanda. Eco Brasil operated a financial pyramid scheme wherethrough hundreds of families were duped. A number of managers involved ended up in prison, convicted for selling misleading investment plans based on reforestation of degraded land. In Brazil, some Dutch managers of the company were accused of land grabbing and involvement in drug trafficking.
The history of the Valdemar family in the municipality of Itacoatiara (Amazonas) begins in the seventies, when Waldemar Costa Filho, the father of Valdemar Costa Neto, ventured into the Amazon rainforest in collaboration with businessperson Fumio Horii in kaolin mining (a raw material for the paper and ceramics industry). He was a compatriot and good friend of the family from Mogi das Cruzes (Sao Paulo). In the city, the current president of Bolsonaro’s party is known by the suggestive nickname “Boy”. His father was mayor of Mogi four times, and an important businessman in the transport and mining sector.
MINING COMPANY ADOPTS THE INITIALS OF VALDEMAR, THE ‘BOY’
In the sector, Valdemar followed his father’s footsteps by founding VCN Mineração in 1996, named after the initials of the then still deputy of the LP. Today, the chairman of Bolsonaro’s party is no longer part of VCN’s corporate structure, but – notwithstanding that – Valdemar Costa Neto was convicted last year in second instance for the degradation of an area equal to 28 football fields by the company, on the banks of the Tietê River, in Biritiba-Mirim, in the interior of São Paulo.
One year before the death of Valdemar’s father, on February 7, 2000, the 49-hectare estate in Itacoatiara (Amazonas) was transferred to VCN Mineração. Just over two weeks later, on 25 February 2000, the delegate sold 75% of Agropecuária Patauá to Reflorestadora Holanda, which had been active in the Amazon since at least 1998.
At the time, Eco Brasil already built up a bad reputation, through its participation in the illegal logging company Eco-Brasil-Holanda-Andirá, led by the former honorary consul of the Netherlands in Pará, Gerardus Bartels. In 1999, the Dutch consul was the subject to a parliamentary commission of inquiry (CPI) in the Amazonas Legislative Assembly, on charges of circumventing the Brazilian constitution by illegally acquiring more than seventy thousand hectares of forest. In addition, about three hundred families living along the river in the region were forced to allot the entire area for logging activities.
The consul denied the allegations, claiming to be the victim of a trap by Eco Brasil BV. Convinced of selling 90% of the wood to the Dutch group, the consul would have discovered that Eco Brasil BV was in fact transferring parts of the forest to third parties. For $3,000 per hectare, interested parties could acquire an area where Eco Brasil promised to plant teak, an Asian species widely used for reforestation. Subsequently, the profits from the management activities would be shared with the investors.
Bartels fled and Eco Brasil BV began to claim a large part of the hectares occupied by the former honorary consul. In the years that followed, Eco Brasil’s sophisticated investment proposal turned out to be a financial pyramid scheme. A search for the company’s history in the Netherlands leads to online forums where some of the duped families insist on compensation and custodial sentences for those involved.
DUTCH JOURNALIST INVESTIGATES NETWORKS OF LAND GRABBING (GRILAGEM) IN AMAZONAS
About forty million euros were funneled to other companies, in addition to spendings on real estate, casinos, cars, travel, and so on. It was the pot calling the kettle black, since the speculation with the land seized by consul Gerardus Bartels was for real. Eco Brasil even created a forest capitalization plan, aimed at the rapid and fraudulent enrichment of its directors.
Details of this story were told in the pre-publication of the book “The Forest of Amazonas”, by Gio Ferrarius, a Dutch journalist. Some of those involved unsuccessfully filed summary proceedings with the Dutch court to prohibit the publication of the work. The author collaborated with De Olho nos Ruralistas to investigate Valdemar’s involvement in the Eco Brasil BV case.
<img class=”wp-image-2233″ src=”https://www.gioferrarius.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/10/afbeelding-met-tekst-automatisch-gegenereerde-bes-1.jpeg” alt=”Afbeelding met tekst
Automatisch gegenereerde beschrijving” />Valdemar Costa Neto, the “Boy”, guarantees Bolsonaro’s campaign. (Photo: Alan Rios/Reproduction)
Valdemar Costa Neto’s real estate in Itacoatiara (Amazonas) was part of the portfolio of the Dutch company, which used Brazilian cover- entities to operate in the country. Eco Brasil did not even have a permit to operate the project, nor did it own most of the properties it claimed to possess. According to the Dutch court, the group’s illegal activities took place between 1999 and 2004, but the transfer of VCN Mineração’s property to Reflorestadora Holanda did not take place until 2005, the year of the “Mensalão” parliamentary inquiry (a major scandal involving the purchase of parliamentary votes), that culminated in the arrest of Costa Neto, currently chairman of Bolsonaro’s party.
In 2006, PJ Quak, one of the leaders of the Dutch organization, was sentenced to six years in prison in the Netherlands. Due to the legal turmoil faced by its partners, Reflorestadora Holanda and Agropecuária Patauá eventually became “dormant” companies, piling up unfinished labor- law cases and tax liabilities. In 2017. The 49-hectare area connected to Valdemar was eventually pledged due to debts of Reflorestadora Holanda to the Federal Government.
PARTNER OF “BOY” REPRESENTS DUTCH SUSPECTED OF BEING ENGAGEMENT IN INTERNATIONAL ILLEGAL TRADE
Owner of Reflorestadora Holanda and Brazilian representative of Eco Brasil BV Francisco Jonivaldo Mota Campos, partner of Valdemar Costa Neto, is still highly active on social media, where he posts daily messages of support for Jair Bolsonaro and keeps in regular contact with his friends in the Netherlands. In the act of incorporation of Reflorestadora Holanda the names of R. G. van den Heuvel and T. Hoegee surface as partners in the company.
Both were investigated for international drug trafficking in the Federal Police’s Operation Niva in 2011, when members of organized crime in the Balkan region, operating in cooperation with the PCC in Brazil, were arrested. Primeira Comando da Capital is Brazil’s largest criminal organization, with 20,000 members, 6,000 of whom remain in captivity. According to the Federal Police, those involved were part of a “criminal organization engaged in drug trafficking from Brazil to Europe, including the use of the Amazon as an exit route for cocaine”. None of the Dutch people surveyed has been convicted in Brazil to date.
Questioned by the daily newspaper Folha for his collaboration with Valdemar in Agropecuária Patauá, Joni Mota Campos limited himself to say that he had never met the president of the Liberal Party. However, data from the Superior Electoral Court (TSE) shows that Joni has been a member of the PL since October 2007, the year Valdemar was elected for his fifth term as federal deputy, after resigning in 2005 due to the consequences of the “monthly allowance-affaire’ (the Mensalão-investigation). In the Folha report, Joni stated that the two companies, Patauá and Reflorestadora Holanda, “exist only ‘in the system’ and that – in his memory – they hadn’t been active since 2004.”
The newspaper also reminded Francisco Jonivaldo Mota Campos of “a public civil procedure by the Federal Public Prosecutor’s Office in connection with the deforestation of 23.6 hectares of Amazon Forest without permission”. The partner of the Dutch Eco Brasil BV dismissed that issue as a mistake. He never owned these lands”.
Joni also presents himself as an influential figure in mining in the Amazon, as coordinator of the “Garimpo é Legal Movement” in the state of Amazonas. The movement was founded by miner Rodrigo Cataratas from the neighboring state of Roraima, another candidate federal deputy for the PL. In the southeast of Amazonas, in Apuí, near the border with Mato Grosso, Joni is a partner at Aliança Mineração, in collaboration with Agostinho Borges da Silva.
At the National Mining Agency (ANM), Francisco Jonivaldo Mota Campos’ partner has an active application for research into gold, copper and manganese ore pending. It concerns an area of more than nine thousand hectares in Nova Aripuanã, a neighboring municipality of Apuí, where Aliança Mineração is headquartered. Agostinho Borges can be found on the internet operating mining companies in Roraima and on the banks of the Juma River, in the region of Apuí and Novo Aripuanã (Amazonas).
The conflict map of the Oswaldo Cruz Foundation (Fiocruz) shows how the region is characterized by a strong flow of prospectors who are mainly looking for alluvial gold deposits discovered in the place in 2006. Apuí is one of the gateways to illegal mining and timber activities in the Amazon and – as this observatory observed this month during a visit to the region – it is one of the municipalities where fires are concentrated in the Amazon.
| Tonsk Fialho studies law at the UFRJ and researches trade unions and social movements. |
|| Alceu Luís Castilho is editor-in-chief of De Olho nos Ruralistas ||
Main image (Reproduction/YouTube): Valdemar Costa Neto, president of the PL, has special interests in legalizing mining