Newspaper owner arrested and journalist forced to testify in new phase of major Brazilian corruption investigation

By Giovana Sanchez

Businessman Ronan Maria Pinto, owner of São Paulo newspaper Diário do Grande ABC, was arrested on April 1 as part of Operation Car Wash, an investigation into corruption in the Brazilian government and various companies. The investigation has fueled a political crisis in Brazil that reaches the top levels of government.

The 27th stage of the operation investigates the destination of a $12 million Brazilian Reales loan made by another businessman - half of this amount was received by Ronan Maria Pinto and is suspected of being used to buy his silence about irregularities committed by the Workers Party (PT), according to newspaper Folha de São Paulo.

The paper reported that Ronan Maria Pinto's defense said his client "has no relation to the facts involved."

Ronan Maria Pinto purchased Diário do Grande ABC in 2004 – the suspicion is, according to G1, that the money he received was used in part to purchase the newspaper. The newspaper, which is published in São Paulo, has a circulation of 33.6 thousand copies per day.

This is not Ronan Maria Pinto's first run-in with the legal system. According to O Globo, in 2015, Ronan Maria Pinto was sentenced to 15 years in prison in a separate corruption case involving the administration of the Santo André city hall.

Besides Ronan Maria Pinto, Breno Altman, director of news site Opera Mundi and columnist for Brazil 247, who has connections to the PT, was called to testify.

Note from the editor: This story was originally published by the Knight Center’s blog Journalism in the Americas, the predecessor of LatAm Journalism Review.