HomeNewsBriefNew Charges Provide Further Evidence of Crime Group Run by Brazil Elites
BRIEF

New Charges Provide Further Evidence of Crime Group Run by Brazil Elites

BRAZIL / 11 SEP 2017 BY PARKER ASMANN EN

Brazil's top prosecutor has charged several former and current senators with receiving bribes and being part of a "criminal organization," offering further evidence suggesting that Brazil's elites were, at some level, operating as a criminal syndicate.

On September 8, Brazilian Attorney General Rodrigo Janot charged seven current and former senators of the governing Brazilian Democratic Movement Party (Partido do Movimento Democrático Brasileiro - PMDB) with accepting 864.5 million reais (around $280 million) in bribes paid by suppliers of the state-run oil company, Petroleo Brasileiro S.A. (Petrobras) and its subsidiary Transportes S.A. (Transpetro), according to the indictment

The indictment names as suspects current senators Edison Lobão, Jader Barbalho, Renan Calheiros, Romero Jucá and Valdir Raupp; former senator and former president José Sarney; and former Transpetro president Sérgio Machado, also an ex-senator. In exchange for the bribes, the PMDB senators allegedly agreed to provide political support to the administration of former president Luiz Inácio "Lula" da Silva.

"In a stable, professionalized, preplanned way, with a defined structure and a sharing of tasks, they formed the political nucleus of a criminal organization structured to divert ... public resources and obtain undue advantages," the indictment states, further explaining that this "political nucleus" coordinated with an "economic nucleus" that also formed part of the overall criminal structure.

SEE ALSO: Brazil News and Profiles

Days earlier on September 5, Janot charged former presidents Lula and Dilma Rousseff, of the Workers' Party (Partido do Trabalhadores - PT), along with several other high-level party officials with involvement in this "criminal organization."

The accused senators issued varied responses to the allegations. Senator Calheiros said that Janot continues to fire more "flawed accusations," while the attorney representing senators Jucá, Lobão and Sarney said he received the complaint "with perplexity," Globo reported

InSight Crime Analysis 

The new charges seem to provide further evidence that some of Brazil's political and economic elites were in fact operating a criminal structure. Although it was perhaps not very centralized, it was unquestionably massive and sophisticated, and many of the alleged participants continue to wield significant power today. 

American University professor Matthew Taylor told InSight Crime that the alleged criminal structure must be looked at from both a legal and practical perspective. 

"I think from a legal perspective this is a [criminal] organization," Taylor told InSight Crime. "From a practical perspective, these political networks … are more hierarchical than many drug trafficking or other criminal organizations around the world." 

SEE ALSO: InDepth Coverage of Elites and Organized Crime

Taylor explained that one reason for this sustained hierarchy is the longevity of the political careers of many of those implicated. 

"I can't think of anybody in the PT [who was] charged who had fewer than 10 years on the national stage," Taylor said. "People have been there a long time, and those charged in the PMDB go back even further." 

According to Taylor, the alleged criminal structure is "absolutely" hierarchical, and partly a consequence of the fact that these "criminal hierarchies ... parallel political hierarchies." 

"[The] alleged wrongdoers remain politically active, able to change the way laws are written in Brazil, [and have the] potential to [still] engage in corrupt acts," Taylor told InSight Crime. 

Indeed, Brazilian elites including President Michel Temer himself have made various efforts to protect themselves from "Operation Car Wash" ("Operação Lava Jato"), the wide-ranging investigation that helped uncover the massive scale of systematized graft in South America's biggest country.

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

BRAZIL / 4 FEB 2015

Brazil's most violent major city, the colonial metropolis of Salvador de Bahia on the country's northern coast, has been hit…

COCAINE / 29 SEP 2021

Accused paramilitary drug lord “Memo Fantasma,” or “Will the Ghost,” has petitioned a judge to be let out of a…

BRAZIL / 3 FEB 2020

The case of an infamous Irish trafficker who is facing extradition to Brazil for stealing peregrine falcon eggs has brought…

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…