(Adds comments of new BNDES CEO)
By Rodrigo Viga Gaier and Alonso Soto
RIO DE JANEIRO/BRASILIA May 26 Maria Silvia
Bastos resigned on Friday as head of Brazil's development bank
BNDES amid a political crisis that had increased
pressure against her by credit-starved business leaders.
Bastos, who cited personal reasons for her resignation, is
the first senior member of the economic team to leave the
administration since corruption allegations against President
Michel Temer plunged Latin America's largest economy into even
greater political chaos.
The head of the government's statistics agency, Paulo
Rabello de Castro, will take over as president of the bank,
Temer's office said in a note shortly after Bastos resigned.
In an interview with Reuters, Rabello said he will not focus
on loans disbursed by past management that prosecutors now
suspect may have resulted from bribes.
"BNDES will look to the future," Rabello said.
Economists had strongly criticized the bank's loose lending
policy during the 13 years that the leftist Workers Party was in
power, when it lent massive amounts to create "national
champion" companies, many of which are now ensnared in the
sprawling "Car Wash" political graft probe.
BNDES has been involved in recent months in a mounting
political scandal over investments in JBS SA, the
world's largest meatpacker, years before Bastos took over.
Bastos had imposed tougher terms for loan disbursements and
asked board members to tighten scrutiny of decisions. BNDES is
the country's largest source of long-term corporate loans.
In a meeting with Temer, JBS's owner Joesley Batista
complained of Bastos and the lack of credit and secretly
recorded the conversation.
Batista gave the recording to prosecutors as part of the
evidence in his plea-bargain testimony in which he also
accuses Temer of receiving 15 million reais ($4.6 million) in
bribes. Batista was forced from his board seat late Friday, JBS
said in a securities filing.
A senior government official denied Bastos' departure was
politically motivated and said she fell from her spot because
she had "lost command of the bank and employees did not accept
The source, who spoke on condition of anonymity as he was
not authorized to discuss the matter, said BNDES employees
accused her of not defending their interests.
Bastos had opened a series of investigations into
multi-billion dollar loans to major companies targeted by
authorities for paying bribes to scores of politicians.
In a note, Temer, who is resisting calls for his
resignation, praised Bastos for taking politics out of the
bank's lending decisions.
($1 = 3.2598 reais)
(Writing by Alonso Soto; Editing by Lisa Shumaker and Grant