The Strategist

Brazilian Pandora Box opened: More than 80 politicians being investigated

04/12/2017 - 15:03

The judge of the Federal Supreme Court of Brazil, Edson Fachin, authorized initiation of an anti-corruption investigation against 83 key politicians of the country, including nine government ministers formed by Michel Temer, President of the South American republic. The relevant list was published in the highest judicial body’s official website.

Ben Tavener
Ben Tavener
Among the suspects are Foreign Minister Aloysio Nunes, Head of the civilian office of President Eliseu Padilha (has the status of Minister), Minister for Urban Development Bruno Araújo, Minister of Science and Technology Gilberto Kassab and many others.

In addition, the court gave approval to start investigation against 29 senators, 42 deputies of the lower house of the national parliament and three governors. Among them are Heads of the upper and lower chambers of the Brazilian parliament.

Some of the suspects, such as Chairman of the Brazilian Social Democracy Party, are mentioned in several criminal cases. The total number of criminal cases to be investigated has reached 74, and two or three politicians appear in the same investigation in a number of cases.

In mid-March it became known that Brazil's Attorney General Rodrigo Janot had applied to the country's Federal Supreme Court with a request to authorize initiation of an investigation in relation to 83 politicians in the corruption case. Names of the defendants of the so-called list of Janot, which local journalists have also nicknamed "Pandora's box of Brazilian politics," have not officially been disclosed within secrecy of the investigation. In addition, the Attorney General prepared 211 more requests to initiate an investigation against suspects who do not have inviolability, and therefore their cases should be examined in lower courts. 

The inquiries about the initiation of investigations are based on testimonies of top managers of Brazilian construction concern Odebrecht. At the end of January, Chairman of the Federal Supreme Court of Brazil approved the company’s employees’ cooperation in the investigation of the corruption case. Previously, many Brazilian media reported that these certificates could compromise a number of representatives of the country’s current and former governments. 

In December 2016, the US Department of Justice reported that Odebrecht and Brazilian petrochemical company Braskem pleaded guilty and agreed to pay $ 3.5 billion to the United States, Brazil and Switzerland in order to remove charges of corruption from them. The testimony of the construction company, in particular, said that Odebrecht, together with its accomplices, gave about $ 788 million as bribes in 12 countries in the period from 2001 to 2016.

Odebrecht, being the largest construction company in South America, was one of the main contractors of the state oil and gas company Petrobras. In June 2015, Odebrecht’s President Marcelo Odebrecht was detained by the Brazilian federal police as one of the suspects in the corruption case in the energy giant.

For almost three years the corruption scandal associated with Petrobras has been the center of public attention in Brazil. The police believe that members of the criminal financial schemes have stolen several billion dollars from the company's budget. During this time, dozens of top managers of Petrobras visited the detention center, many of whom agreed to cooperate with the investigation and testified against representatives of the country's business and political elite in exchange for mitigating their verdicts. Among the figurants of the high-profile case are more than 60 politicians, including current and former parliamentarians, party leaders and governors.