International

Brazil repatriated $125m during corruption crackdown

Sau Paulo: Brazil has launched a massive crackdown on corrupt politicians, businessman and other officials within the country.

It has also repatriated $125 million last year siphoned off to foreign bank accounts and offshore companies by corrupt officials, politicians and businessmen. The money had been diverted to Switzerland and has returned to Brazil.

This comes amidst a political crisis which has seen massive protests and likely impeachment proceedings against President Dilma Rouseff.  This has increased uncertainty within the country set to host the Rio Olympics in less than 100 days.

This crackdown is part of a long-running judicial inquiry, known as Operation Car Wash which is probing accusations of corruption and money laundering at petroleum giant Petrobras.  This is the largest corruption scandal in the history of Brazil and was uncovered in 2014.

According the investigation, a small number of top Petrobras officials colluded with an organized cartel to overcharge Petrobras for construction and service work and these top officials received bribes and kickbacks worth nearly $3 billion.

Dozens of executives and politicians have been arrested or are under investigation on suspicion of overcharging contracts with Petrobras and using part of the money to pay for bribes and electoral campaigns.

Dilma Rouseff and former Brazilian president Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, both who served on the board of directors of Petrobras during the scandals, have been blamed as politicians in their party have benefited from the bribes.

Lula has been detained and questioned as part of the inquiry and his house has also been raided by federal police agents. Police said they had evidence that Lula received illicit benefits from the kickback scheme. He has denied the accusations and claims to be cooperating with the investigation.

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