Since its inception back in 2014, Operation Car Wash has been a factor for the destabilization of Brazil’s political establishment. The investigation on corruption schemes at Petrobras, the state-owned oil and gas company, affects virtually all major parties and most of the country’s high-profile politicians. The plunder of Brazil’s largest company already amounts to more than our GDP. According to estimates from the Federal Police, the financial operations under scrutiny sum up to $2.51 trillion, while Brazil’s GDP reached $1.85 trillion in 2015.
Corruption corrodes the pillars of democracy, destroys the competitiveness of a country, and takes a significant toll on the life of millions of people. It has become one of Brazil’s biggest issues – and the top worry in the minds of Brazilians. When corruption is the norm, as it is in Brazil, distortions and inefficiency dominate the market.
Furthermore, interest groups control the Brazilian Parliament and secure privileges to certain groups in detriment of the community.
Everything about Operation Car Wash is gigantic. The amount of data compiled in two and a half years amounts to 1.2 million gigabytes. It has forced the Federal Police to create a new system in order to store everything.
Odebrecht’s plea deal
But the most frightening thing about the investigation is that we may have only been scratching the surface. Dozens of executives at Odebrecht, Brazil’s largest construction company, are yet to reveal the real extent of corruption schemes. The plea deal signed between the Federal Prosecution Office and the Odebrecht executives received the nickname “end of the world plea deal,” due to its inflammatory potential.
Only one of the executives has already given statements to the prosecutors. But it was enough to drag the President and his closest allies into the scandal. President Michel Temer has allegedly received 10 million BRL in cash from the company. He claims, however, that the donation was legal. Why, then, did he receive it in cash, in the office of a friend, instead of having the money wired to the party’s accounts?