Open main menu

Wikipedia β

Operation Car Wash
(Portuguese: Operação Lava Jato)
Montagem Lava Jato.jpg

(L–R, top to bottom:) Headquarters of Petrobras in Rio de Janeiro; Coat of arms of the Federal Police of Brazil; Judge Sérgio Moro; Deltan Dallagnol with Rodrigo Janot; Federal Police in an operation; Odebrecht logo

Country: Brazil
Since: March 17, 2014
Judge: Sérgio Moro
Number of arrested people: 160[1][2][dead link]
Number of indicted people: 179[2]
Number of convicted people: 93[2]
Number of companies involved: 16[3]
Number of investigated people: 232[2]
Reimbursement request: R$38.1 billion[2] (c. US$11.3 billion)
Amount of misappropriated funds: R$3.6 billion[2] (c. US$1 billion)
Last updated: December 2016.

Operation Car Wash (Portuguese: Operação Lava Jato) is an ongoing criminal investigation being carried out by the Federal Police of Brazil, Curitiba Branch, and judicially commanded by Judge Sérgio Moro since March 17, 2014.

Initially a money laundering investigation, it has expanded to cover allegations of corruption at the state-controlled oil company Petrobras, where executives allegedly accepted bribes in return for awarding contracts to construction firms at inflated prices. This criminal "system" is known as "Petrolão—Operation Car Wash".[4] The operation has included more than one thousand warrants for search and seizure, temporary and preventive detention and coercive measures, with the aim of ascertaining the extent of a money laundering scheme suspected of moving more than R$30 billion (c. US$9.5 billion as of July 23, 2017.[5]) Because of the exceptionality of their actions, lawyers accuse the operation of "selectivity" and "partiality" in their case, being "a criminal case that violated minimum rules of defense for a large number of defendants".[6]



Operation Car Wash began as an money laundering investigation and became the biggest corruption scandal in Latin America. The name was chosen because the alleged ring used a currency exchange and money transfer service at the Posto da Torre (Tower Gas Station) in Brasília to move illicit payments.[7]

At least eleven other countries, mostly in Latin America, were involved and the Brazilian company Odebrecht was deeply implicated.[8]

The corruption scandal grew in part because it challenged the impunity of politicians and business leaders until then. Structural corruption in the political and economic system, no longer tolerated or accepted, was now being investigated and resulted in some criminal charges. This change was made possible because of the independence of the judiciary.[9]. Judge Sergio Moro's Operation Car Wash investigation accused seemingly untouchable politicians, including former presidents Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva and Dilma Rousseff.[9] It succeeded because of ‘rewarded collaboration’ and the strategy of first targeting businesspeople then using their statements against politicians.[8]


The initial accusation came from businessman Hermes Magnus in 2008, who reported an attempt to launder money through his company, Dunel Indústria e Comércio, a manufacturer of electronic components. Ensuing investigations culminated in the identification of four large criminal rings, headed by:

Investigation at first focused on the four black-market currency dealers and improper payments to Alberto Youssef by companies that won contracts at the Petrobras Abreu & Lima Refinery. After they discovered that "doleiro" (black market dealer) Alberto Youssef had acquired a Range Rover Evoque for Paulo Roberto Costa, a former director of Petrobas, the investigation expanded nationwide. Costa agreed after he was charged to provide evidence for the investigation.[10]. A newly adapted law introduced 'rewarded collaboration' in Brazil, sentence reductions when the defendant cooperated. Costa's submission illuminated the way political parties controlled the state-owned oil company Petrobas.[11]

It also led to a wave of arrests. Costa agreed to help in 2014, and between then and February 2016 the Federal Prosecution Service formulated 37 criminal charges against 179 people, mostly of politicians and businessmen [9]. In December 2017 nearly three hundred people had been accused of crimes in the scandal.[12] After Marcelo Odebrecht, grandson of the company founder, was sentenced to 19 years in prison, he and other Odebrecht executives were willing to act as witnesses and to give information about the overall corruption scheme, because of the sentence reduction incentives of the ‘Rewarded Collaboration’ Law. Odebrecht had a secret branch used for illegal payments in several Latin American countries, from Hugo Chávez in Venezuela to Ricardo Martinelli in Panama.[8] Odebrecht was charged with fines totalling $2.6 billion by authorities of Brazil, Switzerland and the United States after they admitted bribing officials in twelve countries for around $788 million.[12]

Costa and Youssef entered into a plea bargain with prosecutors and the scope of the investigation widened to nine major Brazilian construction firms:

as well as politicians involved with Petrobras. Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff, who chaired the board of Petrobras from 2003 to 2010, denied knowledge of any wrongdoing.[13] The Brazilian Supreme Court authorized the investigation of 48 current and former legislators, including former President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, in March 2016.[4] Eduardo Cunha, president of the Chamber of Deputies of Brazil from 2015 to 2016, was accused of taking approximately US$40 million in bribes and hiding funds in secret bank accounts. He is presently incarcerated.[14]

On January 19, 2017, a small plane carrying Supreme Court Justice Teori Zavascki crashed into the sea near the tourist city of Paraty in the state of Rio de Janeiro, killing the magistrate and four other people. Zavascki had been handling Operation Car Wash corruption trials.[15]

A Miami Herald report noted in September 2017 that when Operation Car Wash began,fewer than 10,000 electronic monitoring bracelets were in use to enforce home detentions sentences; by September 2017 the number had balloned to more than 24,000.[16]

Effect on PetrobrasEdit

Petrobras delayed reporting its annual financial results for 2014, and in April 2015 released "audited financial statements" showing $2.1 billion in bribes and a total of almost $17 billion in write-downs due to graft and overvalued assets,[17] which the company characterized as a "conservative" estimate. Had the report been delayed by another week, Petrobras bondholders would have had the right to demand early repayment. Petrobras also suspended dividend payments for 2015. Due in part to the impact of the scandal, as well as to its high debt burden and the low price of oil, Petrobras was also forced to cut capital expenditures and announced it would sell $13.7 billion in assets over the following two years.[17]

Domestic politicsEdit

On March 8, 2016, Marcelo Odebrecht, CEO of Odebrecht and grandson of the company's founder, was sentenced to 19 years in prison after being convicted of paying more than $30 million in bribes to Petrobras executives.[22][23]

Political partiesEdit

  • Temer and the PMDB - The plea bargain testimony by Odebrecht Engenharia Industrial's former president Márcio Faria da Silva pointed out that on July 15, 2010, President Michel Temer led a meeting that served to sign an agreement that provided for the payment of approximately US$ 40 million of bribes to the PMDB in exchange for contracts with the International Board of Directors of Petrobras. According to Faria, Temer, who at the time was a candidate for vice-president on Dilma Rousseff's ticket, delegated to Eduardo Cunha and Henrique Eduardo Alves, then deputies and present at the meeting, the task of making the payments, which represented 5% of the contract value. The meeting took place in Temer's political office in São Paulo. Hhe did not discuss any details about the financial agreement, limiting himself to trivial conversations about politics.[24][25]
  • Aécio and the PSDB - Marcelo Odebrecht said in his plea bargain testimony that the group led by Senator Aécio Neves (PSDB-MG) received at least 50 million reais in exchange for favoring the business contractor in energy deals. He said that improper payments were made due to business deals with two state companies: Furnas and Cemig. The first investigation, federal, was under the leadership of Dimas Toledo, an ally of Neves, in the early years of the Lula administration (2003-2005). The second, state-run state government, was influenced by Aécio during the period when the PSDB ruled Minas Gerais (2003-2014).[26][27]
  • Lula and the PT - Emílio Odebrecht said in a written report to the Attorney General of Brazil's Office (PGR) that he discussed with PT former President Lula donations for PT campaigns. Financial support, according to the contractor, came even before he became president.[28][29] Marcelo Odebrecht said that the "Amigo" account, which contained the resources to be used by former President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, was created in 2010 with a balance of R$ 40 million. According to his statement, he gave the money to Antonio Palocci, former Finance Minister and Rousseff chief of staff, who had been the PT contact with Odebrecht since the prior administration, when Emílio Odebrecht and Pedro Novis, had handled payments. He said that in the middle of 2010, at the end of the Lula administration, he knew that Dilma Rousseff was going to take over and that the balance of the account would be "managed by her at her request". Thus, he separated a sum that would be destined exclusively to for ex-president. He said that Lula never asked directly and that everything was done through Palocci, but it became clear that it was really for the former president.[30][31]

On March 4, 2016, former Brazilian president Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva was detained and questioned for three hours as part of a fraud inquiry into the dealings of Petrobras, his house raided by federal police agents he was brought in for questioning. Lula, who left office in 2011, denied allegations of corruption. Police said they had evidence that Lula, 70, had received kickbacks. Lula's institute called actions against him "arbitrary, illegal and unjustifiable", since he had been co-operating with the investigations.[32] Lula, convicted of accepting bribes worth 3.7 million reais (1.2 million dollars), was sentenced on July 12 to nine and a half years in prison but remained free pending his appeals.[33]

Political familiesEdit

Odebrecht created family discussions about the situation of politicians. In eleven cases under the jurisdiction of the Supreme Federal Court (STF) investigations unite father and son, husband and wife or siblings. The president of the Chamber, Rodrigo Maia (DEM-RJ), has the most family members implicated. He was charged in the same investigation as his father, councilor and former mayor Cesar Maia. According to the Odebrecht testimony, Rodrigo obtained cash resources 2 for his father's campaign and also for himself. The PMDB leader of the Senate, Renan Calheiros (AL), was charged with his son, the governor of Alagoas Renan Filho (PMDB), in two inquiries. They allegedly participated in an agreement to divert resources from the work of the Canal do Sertão and still received resources in the form of box two . In the case of the father, there are still two other inquiries in which the companies are others.

The governor of Rio Grande do Norte, Robinson Faria (PSD), was charged along with with his son, federal deputy Fabio Faria (PSD-RN). The two would have received donations through box two as a counterpart to defend Odebrecht Ambiental's interests in the area of ​​basic sanitation in the state. The president of the PMDB, Senator Romero Jucá (RR), has his son, Rodrigo Jucá, as company in one of the inquiries. The father helped Odebrecht negotiate a Provisional Measure and obtained an electoral donation of 150,000 reais for his son. Romero Jucá was also charged in four other inquiries. A father asking for a contribution for a son was also why former minister José Dirceu was investigated along with Zeca Dirceu (pt), federal deputy. The father was able to raise the money for Zeca in exchange for the acting for of Odebrecht interests in the government.

In the Chamber of Deputies, the sons Antônio Britto (PSD-BA) and Daniel Vilela (pt) (PMDB-GO) were also investigated along with their parents, Edvaldo Brito (pt) (PTB-BA) and Maguito Vilela (PMDB-GO). Senator Kátia Abreu (PMDB-TO) was accompanied by her husband Moisés Pinto Gomes, who brokered cash payments for her in 2014. Senator Vanessa Grazziotin (PCdoB-AM) is accompanied by her husband Eron Bezerra, who was said to have asked for box 2 cash donations for her. Federal Deputy Décio Nery de Lima (pt) (PT-SC) also requested box 2 for the municipal campaign Blumenau in 2012 of his wife and state deputy Ana Paula Lima (PT-SC). The Viana brothers of Acre were not left out. Governor Tião Viana (PT) and Senator Jorge Viana (PT) were also charged together. Jorge asked and Odebrecht paid R$ 1.5 million in cash two for Tião's campaign in 2010.[34][35]

Payments to Brazilian senatorsEdit

The names of the senators cited in the report were:

Payments to federal deputiesEdit

The names of the federal deputies cited in the Odebrecht statement were:

Other Brazilian public figuresEdit

The names include politicians and former public officials also mentioned in the statement:

  • Eduardo Paes (PMDB) - Former mayor of Rio de Janeiro
  • César Maia (DEM) - Former governor of Rio de Janeiro
  • Rosalba Ciarlini Rosado (PP) - former mayor of Mossoró, governor of Rio Grande do Norte.
  • Guido Mantega - Former Finance Minister under Lula and Dilma
  • José Dirceu - Former Lula minister
  • Napoleão Bernardes (pt) - Prefect of Blumenau for the PSDB
  • Cândido_Vaccarezza - Former deputy (PT)
  • Paulo Bernardo - Former Minister of Communication
  • Luiz Alberto Maguito Vilela - Former senator and mayor (PMDB)
  • Humberto Kasper - Former director of Trensurb, in Rio Grande do Sul
  • Marco Arildo Prates da Cunha - Former director of Trensurb
  • Ana Paula Lima - Member (SC-PT)
  • Rodrigo Jucá - Son of Senator Romero Jucá (PMDB-AL)
  • Oswaldo Borges da Costa - Businessman linked to Aécio Neves
  • Vital do Rêgo Filho - minister of the Federal Audit Court
  • Eron Bezerra (PC do B) - Former state deputy for Amazonas
  • Ulisses César Martins de Sousa - Lawyer and former attorney general of the State of the Sao Paulo
  • Valdemar Costa Neto (PR) - Former federal deputy for São Paulo
  • Edvaldo Pereira de Brito - Former mayor of Salvador, linked to Deputy Antonio de Brito
  • José Ivaldo Gomes
  • Vado da Farmárcia - Former Mayor of Cabo de Santo Agostinho PE[38]
  • João Carlos Gonçalves Ribeiro - Former secretary of planning for the state of Rondônia[39]
  • José Feliciano de Barros Júnior. [40]

Repercussions outside BrazilEdit

Paradise PapersEdit

On 5 November 2017, the Paradise Papers, a set of confidential electronic documents relating to offshore investment, revealed that Odebrecht used at least one offshore company as a vehicle for the payment of bribes discovered in the Operation Car Wash investigation. Marcelo Odebrecht, his father Emílio Odebrecht and his brother Maurício Odebrecht are all mentioned in the Paradise Papers.[41]



In Mexico, the former director of the state-owned oil company Pemex, a close ally of President Peña Nieto, is suspected of receiving US$10 million in bribes from Odebrecht.[42]



During the Peruvian presidential election in February 2016, a report by the Brazilian Federal Police implicated Peruvian president Ollanta Humala in bribery by Odebrecht for public works contracts. President Humala denied the charge and has avoided questions from the media on that matter.[44][45] In July 2017, Humala and his wife were arrested and held in pre-trial detention following investigations into his involvement in the Odebrecht scandal.[46][47] Investigations revealed that Brazilian president Lula da Silva pressured Odebrecht to pay millions of dollars toward Humala's presidential campaign.[48]

In December 2017 Peru's President Pedro Pablo Kuczynski, appeared before Congress to defend himself against impeachment over allegations of covering up illegal payments of $782 000 from Brazilian construction giant Odebrecht to Kuczynski's company Westfield Group Capital Ltd. Keiko Fujimori, who lost the 2016 presidential elections by a margin of fewer than 50,000 votes, is championing the motion; her party has already forced out five government ministers. Fujimori is herself implicated in the Odebrecht scandal over alleged campaign contributions.[49]


In late 2017, Euzenando Prazeres de Azevedo, president of Constructora Odebrecht in Venezuela, told investigators that Odebrecht had made $35 million in campaign contributions to Nicolas Maduro's 2013 presidential campaign in return for Odebrecht projects receiving priority in Venezuela,[50] that Americo Mata, Maduro's campaign manager, initially asked for $50 million for Maduro, settled in the end for $35 million.[50][51]

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ "Operação Lava Jato". Federal Police of Brazil. Archived from the original on January 19, 2014. 
  2. ^ a b c d e f Ministério Público Federal. "Resultados da Operação Lava Jato". Retrieved February 21, 2015. 
  3. ^ Ministério Público Federal. "Brazilian Federal Police". Retrieved February 21, 2015. 
  4. ^ a b Connors, Will (April 6, 2015). "How Brazil's 'Nine Horsemen' Cracked a Bribery Scandal". The Wall Street Journal. Retrieved May 12, 2015. 
  5. ^ Economia UOL. Commercial dollar: quotation and charts. Retrieved July 23, 2017.
  6. ^ "Leia o manifesto dos Advogados que comparam Lava Jato à inquisição". 
  7. ^ Connors, Will (June 21, 2015). "Brazil 'Carwash' Shrugs Off Notoriety Tied to Petrobras Scandal". The Wall Street Journal. Retrieved June 22, 2015. 
  8. ^ a b c Kurtenbach, S., & Nolte, D. (2017). Latin America’s Fight against Corruption: The End of Impunity. GIGA Focus Lateinamerika, (03).
  9. ^ a b c Fausto, S. (2017). The Lengthy Brazilian Crisis Is Not Yet Over. Issue Brief, 2.
  10. ^ Kamm, T. (2015). Making sense of Brazil’s Lava Jato scandal. Brunswick Group, April.
  11. ^ Arruda de Almeida, M., & Zagaris, B. (2015). Political Capture in the Petrobus Corruption Scandal: The Sad Tale of an Oil Giant. Fletcher F. World Aff., 39, 87.
  12. ^ a b Felter, C. & Labrador, R. C. (2018). Brazil’s Corruption Fallout. Council on Foreign Relations.
  13. ^ Costas, Ruth (November 21, 2014). "Petrobras scandal: Brazil's energy giant under pressure". BBC. Retrieved May 12, 2015. 
  14. ^ "Brazil arrests top lawmaker behind impeachment of former president Rousseff: Police". Retrieved October 22, 2016. 
  15. ^ Raquel Stenzel (January 20, 2017). "Brazil Supreme Court judge handling graft probe killed in plane crash". Reuters. Retrieved January 20, 2016. 
  16. ^ Mimi Whitefield; Andre Penner (September 5, 2017). "Brazil engulfed in a corruption scandal with plots as convoluted as a telenovela". Miami Herald. AP. Retrieved February 14, 2018.  Caption to the photo within the article by Andre Penner of the AP
  17. ^ a b Kiernan, Paul (April 22, 2015). "Brazil's Petrobras Reports Nearly $17 Billion in Asset and Corruption Charges". The Wall Street Journal. Retrieved May 12, 2015. 
  18. ^ Jelmayer, Rogerio (April 15, 2015). "Brazil Police Arrest Workers' Party Treasurer João Vaccari Neto". The Wall Street Journal. Retrieved August 27, 2015. 
  19. ^ Magalhães, Luciana (July 3, 2015). "Brazilian Police Arrest José Dirceu, Ex-Chief of Staff, in Petrobras Probe". WSJ. Retrieved September 9, 2015. 
  20. ^ Romero, Simon (August 21, 2015). "Expanding Web of Scandal in Brazil Threatens Further Upheaval". The New York Times. Retrieved September 9, 2015. 
  21. ^ "Brazil speaker, former president charged in Petrobras corruption". Yahoo. Retrieved December 22, 2016. 
  22. ^ Fonseca, Pedro (March 8, 2016). "Former Odebrecht CEO sentenced in Brazil kickback case". Reuters. Retrieved March 8, 2016. 
  23. ^ "Brazil Petrobras scandal: Tycoon Marcelo Odebrecht jailed". BBC. March 8, 2016. Retrieved March 8, 2016. 
  24. ^ Fábio Fabrini, Breno Pires e Carla Araújo, de Brasília (12 April 2017). "Temer comandou reunião de acerto de propina de US$ 40 milhões, afirma delator". Estadão. Retrieved 13 April 2017. 
  25. ^ {cite web|url= |publisher=R7|access-date=14 April 2017 |title=Temer comandou reunião que acertou propina de US$ 40 milhões da Odebrecht, diz delator |date=13 April 2017 }}
  26. ^ "Odebrecht: Grupo de Aécio would have received R$ 50 million for influence in the electric sector". Época Negócios. Retrieved April 13, 2017. 
  27. ^ Thiago Herdy. "Odebrecht: Aécio group received R$ 50 million for influence in the electric sector". O Globo. Retrieved April 13, 2017. 
  28. ^ Rodrigo Rangel, Daniel Pereira, Robson Bonin, Laryssa Borges, Marcela Mattos, Felipe Frazão, Hugo Marques and Thiago Bronzatto. "Propina devida ao PT foi discutida com Lula, diz delator". Veja. Retrieved 13 April 2017. 
  29. ^ ""Seu pessoal está com a goela muito aberta", disse Emílio a Lula". O Povo. 13 April 2017. Retrieved 14 April 2017. 
  30. ^ "Audio: Marcelo Odebrecht tells Moro that he tells 'Amigo', referring to Lula, started with $ 40 million". April 13, 2017. Retrieved April 13, 2017. 
  31. ^ Rodrigo Rangel and Daniel Pereira (April 12, 2017). "Lula asked Odebrecht for $40 million in tips". Veja. Retrieved 14 April 2017. 
  32. ^ BBC News Brazil Petrobras scandal: Former president Lula questioned
  33. ^ "Former Brazilian President Lula found guilty of corruption". Reuters. July 12, 2017. Retrieved July 10, 2017. 
  34. ^ "Audio: Marcelo Odebrecht tells Moro that he tells 'Amigo', referring to Lula, started with $ 40 million". O Globo online. April 13, 2017. Retrieved April 13, 2017. 
  35. ^ Rodrigo Rangel and Daniel Pereira (April 12, 2017). "Lula asked Odebrecht for $ 40 million in tips". Veja. Retrieved 14 April 2017. 
  36. ^ "A lista de Fachin: veja quem será investigado pelo STFs". El Pais. 12/4/2017. Retrieved June 24, 2017.  Check date values in: |date= (help)
  37. ^ "A lista de Fachin: veja quem será investigado pelo STFs". El Pais. April 12, 2017. Retrieved June 24, 2017. 
  38. ^
  39. ^
  40. ^ "A lista de Fachin: veja quem será investigado pelo STFs". El Pais. 12/4/2017. Retrieved 24/6/2017.  Check date values in: |access-date=, |date= (help)
  41. ^ Delfino, Emilia (8 November 2017). "Paradise Papers: Salen a la luz 17 offshore de Odebrecht y al menos una se usó para sobornos". Perfil. Archived from the original on 8 November 2017. Retrieved 9 November 2017. 
  42. ^ (September 2017) "Former Pemex director suspected of bribery", Mexico & NAFTA Regional Report. ISSN 1741-444X.
  43. ^ dayra2 (March 11, 2016). "Ministro consejero Fonseca Mora se va de licencia" [Counselor minister Fonseca Mora goes on license]. Panamá América (in Spanish). Retrieved December 22, 2016. 
  44. ^ Leahy, Joe. "Peru president rejects link to Petrobras scandal". Financial Times. Retrieved February 24, 2016. 
  45. ^ Post, Colin. "Peru: Ollanta Humala implicated in Brazil's Carwash scandal". Peru reports. Retrieved February 23, 2016. 
  46. ^
  47. ^ "Peru's ex-presidents Humala and Fujimori, old foes, share prison". Reuters. 14 July 2017. Retrieved 2017-12-18. 
  48. ^ EC, Redacción (2017-12-14). "Las claves de la prisión preventiva contra Ollanta Humala y Nadine Heredia". El Comercio (in Spanish). Retrieved 2017-12-18. 
  49. ^ Sanchez, Mariana (December 21, 2017). "Peru's Congress debates impeachment of President Kuczynski". Lima: Al Jazeera. Retrieved December 22, 2017. 
  50. ^ a b "Ousted Venezuelan prosecutor leaks Odebrecht bribe video". Washington Post. 12 October 2017. Retrieved 12 October 2017. 
  51. ^ "Américo Mata habría recibido pagos de Odebrecht para campaña de Maduro | El Cooperante". El Cooperante (in Spanish). 25 August 2017. Retrieved 13 October 2017. 

External linksEdit