Brazil bans corporations from political donations amid corruption scandal

Bruce Douglas – The Guardian, 9/18/2015

Amid a massive corruption scandal which has tarnished Brazil’s political class and driven the country’s president to the brink of impeachment, the Brazilian supreme court has banned corporate donations to candidates and parties in future elections.

With eight votes in favour and three against, the court declared late on Thursday that the rules allowing companies to donate to election campaigns were unconstitutional.

Around 76% of the over R$3bn ($760m) donated during last year’s election campaigns for the presidency, senate and congress came from corporate entities. Both the ruling leftwing Partido dos Trabalhadores (PT) and the main opposition Partido da Social Democracia Brasileira (PSDB) received over R$1bn each.

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Brazil’s economy tanks as multibillion-dollar corruption scandal expands

Dom Phillips – The Washington Post, 9/16/2015

Rodrigo Muchinelli, owner of a computer sales and repair store in Rio, said his business was in the red for the first three months of this year and is still limping. “It is a fight, daily,” said the 38-year-old businessman.

Laercio Soares closed a lucrative deal with a Rio samba school for his embroidery company in December. He used the money to close a family business whose workforce had fallen from 60 to eight. “We saw the perspective was bad,” said Soares, 65. “That’s why we took this drastic decision.”

He was proved right. Brazil’s economy is tanking — and it’s not just China, its principal trade partner, that is to blame. South America’s biggest economy fell into recession in August and is expected to shrink by 2 to 3 percent this year. Inflation is pushing 10 percent, its highest since 2003, unemployment has climbed to over 8 percent, and the Brazilian real has lost about a third of its value against the dollar this year.

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Thousands in Brazil protest corruption scandal

CBS News – 08/16/2015

Brazilians took to the streets of cities and towns across the country Sunday for anti-government protests being watched as a barometer of discontent with the increasingly unpopular President Dilma Rousseff.

Called mostly by activist groups via social media, the demonstrations assailed Rousseff, whose standing in the polls has plunged amid a snowballing corruption scandal that has embroiled politicians from her Workers’ Party as well as a sputtering economy, a weakening currency and rising inflation.

But the protests drew relatively modest crowds, likely giving the president some breathing room. Huge numbers had come out for two earlier rounds of demonstrations this year.

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Brazil businessmen sentenced to 16 years over Petrobras scandal

BBC Brazil, 8/6/2015

A judge in Brazil said former OAS president Jose Aldemario Pinheiro and Agenor Medeiros were involved in a major corruption scandal at the state-owned oil company, Petrobras.

Three other former OAS employees have been sentenced to shorter jail terms.The scandal broke last year, implicating senior politicians.Pinheiro and Medeiros were found guilty of bribing government officials, money laundering and conspiracy to commit crimes.

OAS lawyer Edward Carvalho says the company will appeal on behalf of its former employees, O Globo newspaper reported.

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Exclusive: Peru sending prosecutors to Brazil as corruption probe goes regional

Marco Aquino and Brad Haynes – Reuters, 7/20/2015

Peruvian prosecutors plan to visit Brazil this month to gather evidence of bribery on a transcontinental highway project, Peru’s attorney general said in an interview, adding to regional fallout from the biggest corruption scandal in Brazil’s history.

The mission laid out by Peruvian Attorney General Pablo Sánchez is the most public sign yet of international cooperation on a case that has jailed heads of major Brazilian engineering groups as police comb bank records for evidence of a cartel.

Regional interest in the probe exploded last month, when Brazilian police arrested the chief executive of Odebrecht SA [ODBES.UL], Latin America’s biggest construction company. His arrest has put billions of dollars worth of infrastructure projects in the region under fresh scrutiny.

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Brazil’s president says, ‘I’m not guilty,’ but even allies wonder if she can survive

Dom Phillips – The Washington Post, 7/16/2015

Last week Brazil’s President Dilma Rousseff, looking increasingly isolated in a deepening political crisis, gave a newspaper interview to insist: “I’m not going to fall.”

Rousseff said she was “not guilty” in the multibillion-dollar corruption scandal at the state-run oil company Petrobras, even as a criminal investigation, dubbed Operation Car Wash, tightens around leading politicians from her ruling coalition.

On Tuesday police searched houses belonging to senator and former president Fernando Collor, impeached in 1992, and other allied politicians.

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Brazil’s OAS unveils restructuring plan ahead of deadline

Silvio Cascione and Guillermo Parra-Bernaluters – Reuters, 6/20/2015

Brazilian engineering and construction conglomerate OAS S.A. late on Friday unveiled a restructuring plan to a Sao Paulo court, the latest step in a plan to avert bankruptcy amid a corruption scandal at Petróleo Brasileiro SA.

The plan, which still needs approval by the court, laid out two scenarios for the restructuring of about 8 billion reais ($2.5 billion) in debt, both counting on proceeds from asset sales and a debtor-in-possession (DIP) loan. OAS had until June 22 to present a plan.

In a statement, OAS also said it will seek a repayment agreement with some holders of senior notes due 2019 and 2021, and perpetual notes, total ling about $1.775 billion in principal. OAS signed confidentiality agreements with the noteholders to facilitate the discussions.

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