C&B Notes

Hope for Brazil?

The Petrobas scandal, along with a number of other investigations, continues to deepen and ensnare more and more of Brazil’s most prominent companies and executives.  Based on some recent discussions, we are hopeful that the country can address its long history of endemic corruption at the highest levels of government and industry.  Entrenched interests will ensure that it will be neither an easy nor straight path.

The prosecutors in Brazil’s landmark corruption case at state-owned oil company Petrobras have threatened to resign if president Michel Temer signs into law a controversial bill they say is aimed at crushing such investigations.  The lower house of congress approved the bill on Wednesday while the country was mourning the loss of football team Chapecoense in an aircraft crash.  The proposed law would allow prosecutors and judges to be prosecuted for alleged abuses of power against defendants in their cases.  “It is not possible that any state with rule of law would not protect its prosecutors against those who are being accused.  So in this way, we are proposing to collectively resign if this bill is sanctioned by the president,” said prosecutor Carlos dos Santos Lima, a member of the task force investigating the Petrobras case.

The bill was seen by analysts as an attempt by congressmen to shield themselves from the Petrobras investigation, in which scores of politicians are accused of conspiring with company officials and contractors to enrich themselves and their parties with bribes and kickbacks.  After nearly two and a half years of investigations, Brasília is bracing itself for what is expected to be a huge plea bargain agreement between prosecutors and former employees of one of the biggest Petrobras contractors, Odebrecht.  Prosecutors are reportedly still negotiating the plea bargain with Odebrecht staff but the resulting testimony is expected to implicate large numbers of serving politicians who allegedly received secret funding from the company.

 

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