HomeNewsBriefBrazil Officials Implicated in Petrobras Money Laundering Scandal
BRIEF

Brazil Officials Implicated in Petrobras Money Laundering Scandal

BRAZIL / 9 SEP 2014 BY KYRA GURNEY EN

Three governors and several other politicians in Brazil have been linked to a multi-billion dollar money laundering scheme allegedly involving state oil company Petrobras in a scandal that may reach the highest levels of the Brazilian government.

In his testimony as part of a plea bargain, Petrobras’ former director of refining and supply, Paulo Roberto Costa, named several politicians he claims participated in the money laundering scheme, reported Veja. The politicians include the former governors of Rio de Janeiro and Pernambuco, the current governor of Maranhão, and at least three senators.

According to O Globo, the most serious accusations have been leveled against Roseana Sarney, the governor of Maranhão, who has been accused of having ties to Alberto Youssef, the leader of the money laundering scheme that allegedly operated with the help of Costa. Evidence has emerged that Youssef also bankrolled trips for the advisors of two senators, one of whom Costa named in his testimony.

InSight Crime Analysis

The massive money laundering investigation, dubbed “Operation Car Wash,” has so far led to charges against at least 46 people for financial crimes such as illegal money transfers and money laundering. According to court documents accessed by Bloomberg, the criminal operation laundered $4.4 billion in funds from Brazilians trying to avoid paying taxes, alleged drug traffickers, and money embezzled from Petrobras.

Youssef worked as a “doleiro,” an informal foreign exchange trader who helped clients deposit their money abroad without notifying tax authorities. He allegedly collaborated with Costa to launder money through Petrobras. Both men were arrested in March.  

Although President Dilma Rousseff has not been implicated in any wrongdoing related to “Operation Car Wash,” she did serve as the Chairwoman of Petrobras from 2003 to 2010, and having her name connected with a company mired in scandal likely won’t bode well for her reelection campaign. According to a recent poll, she is trailing opponent Marina Silva in Brazil’s October elections.

Rousseff has already been criticized for her role in the 2012 purchase of an extremely overpriced Texas oil refinery, a deal that began when Rousseff was still chairwoman. Brazilian investigators are looking into whether or not the purchase of the refinery could be linked to “Operation Car Wash,” although such a link would not necessarily mean Rousseff had any knowledge of the money laundering scheme. 

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.

Related Content

ELITES AND CRIME / 13 FEB 2018

The arrest in Guatemala of former President Álvaro Colom adds to the list of former heads of states facing corruption…

BRAZIL / 2 MAR 2021

Illegal fishing off the coast of French Guiana surged amid the COVID-19 pandemic, as French maritime patrols struggled to mobilize…

COLOMBIA / 22 JUL 2014

The director of Colombia's tax and customs agency has resigned and left the country after stating he had received death…

About InSight Crime

THE ORGANIZATION

Strategic Communications Manager Job Description

12 FEB 2021

InSight Crime is looking for a full-time strategic communications manager. This person needs to be able to work in a fast-paced world of daily news, high-profile investigations, national and international…

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…

BRIEF

InSight Crime’s ‘Memo Fantasma’ Investigation Wins Simón Bolívar National Journalism Prize

COLOMBIA / 20 NOV 2020

The staff at InSight Crime was awarded the prestigious Simón Bolívar national journalism prize in Colombia for its two-year investigation into the drug trafficker known as “Memo Fantasma,” which was…

ANALYSIS

InSight Crime – From Uncovering Organized Crime to Finding What Works

COLOMBIA / 12 NOV 2020

This project began 10 years ago as an effort to address a problem: the lack of daily coverage, investigative stories and analysis of organized crime in the Americas. …