HomeNewsBriefBrazil Cuts Anti-Graft Unit Funding as Bribe Scandal Hits President
BRIEF

Brazil Cuts Anti-Graft Unit Funding as Bribe Scandal Hits President

BRAZIL / 22 MAY 2017 BY LEONARDO GOI EN

The government of Brazil has reduced funding for a police task force investigating a massive corruption scandal that recently implicated the country's president, highlighting ongoing efforts by Brazilian elites to derail wide-ranging anti-graft operations.

The administration of President Michel Temer has cut both funding and staffing for the police task force mounting a massive anti-corruption investigation known as "Operation Car Wash" ("Operação Lava Jato"), reported Estadão.

The cuts reduced the size of the task force from nine people to just four, and withheld 44 percent of the unit's funding in the planned budget for 2017, the news outlet reported.

Temer is currently the subject of massive controversy and an official investigation following the recent publication of audio recordings appearing to show him encouraging a businessman to engage in bribery.

This is reportedly the first time that the staff of the special Car Wash task force has been cut since the operation began in March 2014.

The task force has helped to reveal the expansive nature of corruption in Brazil, shining light on widespread graft involving both the state-owned oil giant Petrobras as well as the country's largest construction company, Odebrecht, as well as other firms.

A number of prominent politicians and businessmen have already been arrested in connection to the scandal, and many others in addition to Temer are under investigation for their potential involvement, including Brazil's last five presidents.

InSight Crime Analysis

In addition to the fact that the president himself has apparently been caught on tape encouraging exactly the type of activities that the Car Wash task force has been investigating, the Temer administration's decision to cut funding for the special police unit provides further evidence that elements of Brazil's political elite are attempting to sabotage the anti-graft investigations.

Operation Car Wash prosecutors based in Curitiba, Brasília and Rio de Janeiro told Estadão that the budget cuts are a way for the Temer administration to directly interfere in the investigations. A member of the Curitiba task force who spoke under condition of anonymity went as far as to claim the cuts "will be the end" of Operation Car Wash.

These concerns were echoed by Eduardo Sobral, president of the Federal Police Officers Association (Associação dos Delegados da Polícia Federal – ADPF), who said, "Budget cuts have always felt like a sword on our necks, which the government can use whenever they want, to paralyze our activities because of our lack of financial autonomy."

SEE ALSO: Brazil News and Profiles

This is far from the first time that Brazil's political elites seem to have plotted to derail the Car Wash investigations. Separate audiotapes obtained and published last year by Folha de São Paulo appeared to show a powerful politician with close ties to Temer discussing with a prominent businessman how to use the impeachment proceedings against then-President Dilma Rousseff as a way to "stop the bleeding" from the anti-graft investigations. (Rousseff was eventually impeached and removed from office for reasons that were not related to corruption or the Car Wash scandal.)

Additionally, the Brazilian Congress -- more than a third of whom have been implicated in the most recent corruption allegations -- has previously attempted to pass legislation to shield themselves from graft charges. And as InSight Crime previously reported, analysts say it is likely that legislators will band together in similar future efforts that could impact the progress of the anti-corruption investigations.

share icon icon icon

What are your thoughts? Click here to send InSight Crime your comments.

We encourage readers to copy and distribute our work for non-commercial purposes, with attribution to InSight Crime in the byline and links to the original at both the top and bottom of the article. Check the Creative Commons website for more details of how to share our work, and please send us an email if you use an article.

Was this content helpful?

We want to sustain Latin America’s largest organized crime database, but in order to do so, we need resources.

DONATE

Related Content

BRAZIL / 11 SEP 2018

New immigration restrictions announced by some countries in Latin America to stem the tide of migrants fleeing Venezuela could create…

ELITES AND CRIME / 4 JUL 2018

The recent decision of two alternate judges in Guatemala to release 10 people implicated in an extensive customs fraud case…

BRAZIL / 14 APR 2021

Messer, the notoriously prolific money launderer, was able to move millions of dollars through Brazil’s emerald mining industry, adding yet…

About InSight Crime

THE ORGANIZATION

Collaborating on Citizen Security Initiatives

8 JUN 2021

Co-director Steven Dudley worked with Chemonics, a DC-based development firm, to analyze the organization’s citizen security programs in Mexico.

THE ORGANIZATION

InSight Crime Deepens Its Connections with Universities

31 MAY 2021

A partnership with the University for Peace will complement InSight Crime’s research methodology and expertise on Costa Rica.

THE ORGANIZATION

With Support from USAID, InSight Crime Will Investigate Organized Crime in Haiti

31 MAY 2021

The project will seek to map out Haiti's principal criminal economies, profile the specific groups and actors, and detail their links to elements of the state.

THE ORGANIZATION

We Have Updated Our Website

4 FEB 2021

Welcome to our new home page. We have revamped the site to create a better display and reader experience.

THE ORGANIZATION

InSight Crime Events - Border Crime: The Northern Triangle and Tri-Border Area

ARGENTINA / 25 JAN 2021

Through several rounds of extensive field investigations, our researchers have analyzed and mapped out the main illicit economies and criminal groups present in 39 border departments spread across the six countries of study – the Northern Triangle trio of Guatemala, Honduras, and El…