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Lava Jato Attracts Attention From Prosecutors in 31 Countries and Four Continents

11/16/2017 - 11h43



Updated 11/23/2017 at 22h46.

With 31 countries requesting information or enforcement action, Operação Lava Jato [Operation Car Wash] is the case which attracted the most interest from foreign officials in the history of Brazilian judicial inquiries.

The operation attracted attention internationally because Brazilian construction firms, particularly Odebrecht, deployed structures for generating and remitting illegal funds through offshore companies and banks in several countries, and because contracts between Petrobras, Brazil's state-owned oil company, and foreign suppliers are under investigation.

Odebrecht's illegal financial structure for the disbursement of graft money involved four layers of offshore companies and foreign bank accounts, according to executives who worked in the department charged with moving bribe money around, known within the company as "structured operations section".

According to the federal public prosecutor's International Cooperation Office (SCI), officials from 31 countries have sent 139 cooperation requests to the prosecutors who are handling Lava Jato, which is a new record for a single case.

On their part, Lava Jato's prosecutors have contacted the authorities in 41 countries, with 201 cooperation requests.

Among the countries requesting cooperation, nine in Latin America and two in Africa were described in Lava Jato-related depositions as places where the company paid bribes to public officials, according to data supplied under an agreement between Brazilian, American and Swiss law enforcement authorities in December 2016.

Odebrecht has revealed bribes to the tune of $ 788 million paid in those territories.

Besides Brazil, the depositions points at bribes paid to public officials in Angola, Argentina, Colombia, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, Guatemala, Mexico, Mozambique, Panama, Peru and Venezuela.

Peru is a place of special interest within this group, with investigations and warrants against two former Presidents, Alejandro Toledo, who fled to the United States, and Ollanta Humaila, who's already in jail.

Now, the current Peruvian President, Pedro Paulo Kuczynski, is also being questioned, after Peruvian news organizations reported that Marcelo Odebrecht informed Peruvian prosecutors that Kuczynski worked as a consultant for the Brazilian company, after leaving Toledo's administration in the 2000s.

Jorge Glas, Ecuador's Vice-President, is in jail, charged with receiving bribes from Odebrecht.

In Argentina, prosecutors are also investigating Odebrecht's projects. Several officials suspected of connection with the company's illicit businesses will be questioned in the following weeks.

In Angola and Mozambique, the press reports that the authorities are not acting upon any information relating to Odebrecht's bribes.


Twelve European countries have requested cooperation from Lava Jato, most of them in relation to the involvement of local finance companies with the Brazilian construction firms under investigation.

The group includes Andorra, Denmark, France, Italy, Liechtenstein, the Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland and the United Kingdom.

Luiz Eduardo da Rocha Soares was the Odebrecht executive tasked with finding foreign banks and creating structures to keep the bribe money flowing, using shell companies.

Under a plea bargain, Soares revealed the names of seven banks located in Andorra, Switzerland, Austria, Malta and Ilha da Madeira (a Portuguese dependency).

He also told that most of the money used to fuel the system was generated through fraudulent operations and contracts executed outside Brazil, mainly in Venezuela, Panama, the Dominican Republic and Angola.

Contacted by Folha, Odebrecht claimed that "the quality and effectiveness of Odebrecht's collaboration are confirmed in a daily basis, and offer law enforcement a valuable tool, in Brazil and in the other countries where the company does business".

This article was based on information gathered by the members of international news-gathering project Investiga Lava Jato, with 21 news professionals from 11 Latin American and African countries. The project is coordinated by journalists from Folha de São Paulo and Peruvian news portal Convoca.


See the 31 countries that requested help or enforcement action from the Brazilian public prosecutor's team who is handling the case.

The world wants to know about Lava Jato
The world wants to know about Lava Jato

Dutch company SBM, builder of oil rigs, is suspected of paying bribes to win contracts with Petrobras.

Switzerland and Andorra
One of Odebrecht's plea-bargainers pointed at the use of bank accounts in both countries for the bribery disbursement scheme.

Vice-President Jorge Glas was arrested early in October, under suspicion of receiving bribes.

Peruvian Justice ordered the arrest of former Presidents Alejandro Toledo (who fled to the US) and Ollanta Humala (who is already in jail). Marcelo Odebrecht also revealed having hired current Peruvian President Pedro Pablo Kuczynski as a consultant.

Argentine judges will question people involved and examine accounts of Odebrecht construction projects there, such as tunnels in the Sarmiento raiway line in Buenos Aires.

Angola and Mozambique
Local journalists claim the authorities are not acting upon the revelation of bribes paid to local public officials by Odebrecht executives.

The world wants to know about Lava Jato
The world wants to know about Lava Jato

The information surfaced under an agreement signed by Brazilian, American and Swiss law enforcement organizations in December 2016.

This article is part of the Investiga Lava Jato Collaborative Project
Participating journalists and news organizations:
Argentina: Emilia Delfino - Perfil. Angola Rafael Marques - Maka Angola. Brazil Flávio Ferreira (project coordination) - Folha de S.Paulo.
Colombia: ColombiaCheck team. Ecuador: Christian Zurita - Mil Hojas. El Salvador: Jimmy Alvarado - El Faro. Guatemala: Daniel Villatoro - Plaza Pública. Mexico: Daniel Lizárraga and Raúl Olmos (Mexicanos contra la Corrupción y la Impunidad). Mozambique: Adérito Caldeira - Jornal Verdade. Panama: Sol Lauría (with data support from Iniciativa Regional para el Periodismo de Investigación en las Américas de ICFJ/Connectas). Peru: Convoca - Milagros Salazar (project coordination), Aramís Castro (data analysis), Óscar Libón, Miguel Gutiérrez, Mariana Quilca, Sandro Michelini, Orlando Tapia and Víctor Anaya (data analysis and Web development). Venezuela Lisseth Boon (Runrunes) and Jesús Yajure (El Pitazo)

Sources, International Cooperation Office (SCI), Brazilian public prosecutor office; Department of Justice, USA; and Projeto Investiga Lava Jato


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