It is impossible to deny that Operation Car Wash has defined the year 2016 in Brazil. It contributed to the impeachment of a president; created a unique state of political turmoil in a country otherwise used to turbulence; and, thanks to the investigation, nearly all high-profile Brazilian politicians now fear to go to jail – from former President Lula da Silva to incumbent Michel Temer.
According to the prosecutors conducting the graft probe, 2016 was the most productive year of the task force created in 2014. This year alone, the authorities have launched 17 police operations and pressed charges against 20 individuals – more than in the previous two years combined.
For 2017, the prosecutors promise to aim their investigations towards Brazilian banks. The investigators argue that financial institutions could have avoided many crimes. “There are still many flaws with compliance policies within Brazil’s banking system,” said Prosecutor Orlando Martello.
Let’s break down Operation Car Wash in numbers:
In a statement, the Car Wash prosecutors also cited the Anti-Corruption Legislation they presented to Congress. Back in November, however, Congress tried to approve a deformed version of the original text, granting amnesty to politicians who profited from illegal campaign donations.
The bill also said that unsubstantiated wealth shouldn’t be a crime. It means that even if a civil servant were to buy a car with money he received from bribes, he could keep the vehicle. It might seem like a joke, but that’s the anti-corruption law that Brazil’s lower house approved.
In response, Car Wash prosecutors threatened a collective resignation. But it didn’t come down to it. On December 15, a Supreme Court Justice ruled to return the anti-corruption bill back to its initial stages in the Lower House. Speaker Rodrigo Maia called the injunction “strange” and an “undue interference”.