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Mon Jun 5, 2017, 12:57 AM

Operation Car Wash: Is this the biggest corruption scandal in history?


What began as an investigation into money laundering quickly turned into something much greater, uncovering a vast and intricate web of political and corporate racketeering. By Jonathan Watts



On 14 January 2015, police agent Newton Ishii was waiting in Rio de Janeiro’s Galeăo airport to meet the midnight flight from London. His mission was simple. A former executive of Brazil’s national oil company, Petrobras, was on the plane. Ishii was to arrest him as soon as he set foot in Brazil and take him for questioning by detectives.

No big deal, the veteran cop thought as he ticked off the hours in the shabby Terminal One lounge. This was just one of many anti-bribery operations he had worked on. Usually they made a few headlines, then faded away, leaving the perpetrators to carry on as if nothing had happened. There was a popular expression for this: acabou em pizza (to end up with pizza), which suggested that there was no political row that could not be settled over a meal and a few beers.

When the plane finally landed, Ishii’s target was easy to identify among the passengers in the arrivals hall. Nestor Cerveró has a strikingly asymmetrical face, with his left eye set lower than the right. “He couldn’t believe it. He said I had made a mistake,” Ishii recalled later. “I told him I was just doing my job and that he could take up his complaints with the judge.”

Cerveró called his brother and a lawyer. He expected to be free before morning. Ishii, too, had few illusions that his suspect would be locked up for long. Decades on the force had taught him how quickly the rich and powerful could wriggle off the hook. There was little reason to think this case would be any different.

More:
https://www.theguardian.com/world/2017/jun/01/brazil-operation-car-wash-is-this-the-biggest-corruption-scandal-in-history

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