HomeNewsBriefMassive Brazil Corruption Scandal Takes on International Scope
BRIEF

Massive Brazil Corruption Scandal Takes on International Scope

ARGENTINA / 24 FEB 2016 BY MIKE LASUSA EN

A wide-ranging corruption investigation involving two of Brazil's largest companies has moved into the international realm following allegations against foreign officials, including Peruvian President Ollanta Humala. 

For more than a year, Brazilian prosecutors have been looking into allegations that the state oil giant Petrobras awarded overpriced contracts to a cartel of large construction companies, which used the money to fund kickbacks to Petrobras executives and politicians.

Now, according to a report from O Globo, Brazilian authorities say new evidence shows one of those companies, Odebrecht SA, may have paid bribes to Argentina's former transportation secretary, Ricardo Jaime, and Peru's current president, Ollanta Humala, in exchange for help obtaining major public works contracts in those countries.

The Buenos Aires Herald reported that Jaime pleaded guilty last year to accepting money and favors from business executives whose companies he was charged with regulating. The Peruvian president's office has denied taking bribes from Odebrecht, RPP Noticias reported.

In another sign that the case is taking on an international dimension, Reuters reported that Swiss authorities recently arrested Odebrecht executive Fernando Migliaccio da Silva, who is said to have helped manage offshore bank accounts used to distribute illicit payments.

SEE ALSO: Coverage of Money Laundering

The so-called "Car Wash" scandal has already implicated a number of powerful businesspeople and politicians in Brazil -- most recently, João Santana, who served as a top advisor for the campaigns of current Brazilian president Dilma Rousseff and her predecessor, Luiz Inacio "Lula" da Silva. Santana was arrested Tuesday on charges of taking bribes from Odebrecht and other companies.

O Globo also reported that the newly uncovered evidence suggests Odebrecht may have provided free construction services to the Lula Institute, a non-profit founded by the former president. Lula and members of his immediate family have recently been linked to other allegations of influence-peddling, but he has denied any wrongdoing.

InSight Crime Analysis

The expansive nature of the "Car Wash" investigation suggests a serious commitment by Brazilian authorities to follow the case wherever it leads, even if that involves scrutinizing very powerful individuals. This tenacity comes as a welcome sign of change in a country where elites have traditionally found it relatively easy to avoid facing justice for corruption.

However, Brazilian prosecutors have faced some criticism for the means by which they have conducted their investigations. And the international dimension the case is now assuming could create even more controversy going forward.

SEE ALSO: Coverage of Elites and Organized Crime

For example, RPP Noticias reported that Humala's office had summoned the Brazilian ambassador in order to express the president's rejection of the accusations. According to Voice of America, Peru's attorney general has declined to investigate the charges, citing presidential immunity.  

By most accounts, the "Car Wash" investigation has made some important achievements in Brazil. But, as the Swiss and Peruvian cases illustrate, Brazilian authorities will need the cooperation of their international counterparts in order to pursue suspects abroad.

share icon icon icon

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

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

ARGENTINA / 30 MAY 2012

The case of a shady Balkan crime network sheds light on the ways that the South American drug trade has…

ELITES AND CRIME / 9 MAY 2015

Guatemala Vice President Roxana Baldetti has resigned as the fallout from a scandal involving the country's customs agency and Baldetti's…

BRAZIL / 5 JAN 2015

Recent cases involving the illegal appropriation and sale of lands in Peru and Brazil highlight how lucrative land trafficking can…

About InSight Crime

THE ORGANIZATION

Venezuela's Cocaine Revolution Met With Uproar

6 MAY 2022

On May 4, InSight Crime launched its latest investigation, Venezuela’s Cocaine Revolution¸ accompanied by a virtual panel on its findings. The takeaways from this three-year effort, including the fact that Venezuela…

THE ORGANIZATION

Venezuela Drug Trafficking Investigation and InDepth Gender Coverage

29 APR 2022

On May 4, InSight Crime will be publishing The Cocaine Revolution in Venezuela, a groundbreaking investigation into how the Venezuelan government regulates the cocaine trade in the country. An accompanying event,…

THE ORGANIZATION

InDepth Coverage of Juan Orlando Hernández

22 APR 2022

Ever since Juan Orlando Hernández was elected president of Honduras in 2014, InSight Crime has provided coverage of every twist and turn during his rollercoaster time in office, amid growing…

THE ORGANIZATION

Venezuela's Cocaine Revolution

15 APR 2022

On May 4th, InSight Crime will publish a groundbreaking investigation on drug trafficking in Venezuela. A product of three years of field research across the country, the study uncovers cocaine production in…

LA ORGANIZACIÓN

Widespread Coverage of InSight Crime MS13 Investigation

8 APR 2022

In a joint investigation with La Prensa Gráfica, InSight Crime recently revealed that four of the MS13’s foremost leaders had been quietly released from…