Odebrecht, Brazil’s largest construction firm, has admitted to paying more than $3 billion in bribes. The money came from contracts between the company and Petrobras, and went into the pockets of corrupt politicians. That, of course, is only the money used to bribe politicians. In total, the financial operations under scrutiny sum up to $2.51 trillion, while Brazil’s GDP reached $1.85 trillion in 2015.
But let’s stick to the bribes. What could the country have bought with such amount of money?
Contas Abertas, an institution dedicated to scrutinizing the public budget, calculated that. Here’s the answer:
The money would also be enough to build 40 public hospitals across the country.
Supreme Court corruption investigations
With the bribes, Odebrecht has “purchased” at least 12 tax laws since 2005. As a matter of fact, if Odebrecht were a party, it would have one of Congress’ largest caucuses. And probably the most loyal one. Odebrecht’s method was simple: financial cooptation. By buying out congressmen, the company gathered much more than simple partners. It had accomplices.
So far, we know that the “Odebrecht caucus” had at least 24 senators (out of 81) and 39 representatives (out of 513). However, its power far exceeded the number of politicians. After all, the members of Congress on Odebrecht’s pocket included the heads of both congressional houses. Not to mention 8 members of the cabinet.
The list even includes a member of the Federal Accounts Court – a sort of audit tribunal that should monitor public spending and avoid corruption.