Brazil’s Olympic Greeting: Welcome to Hell

Beth McLoughlin – U.S. News, 07/18/2016

RIO DE JANEIRO — In Brazil’s oldest favela of Providencia, Diego Deus lives with his wife and 6-month-old son. He can walk to work at the Museum of Modern Art, a gleaming new addition to the city’s port zone that has been redeveloped in advance of this summer’s Olympic Games.

Unemployment has been steadily climbing in Brazil, a country in its worst recession since the 1930s, but Deus is one of many Rio residents who has found work directly or indirectly as a result of the Games. Proud of his neighborhood, he resisted being moved when 200 people were evicted to renovate Providencia.

“They wanted to take my house out [to build a cable car], but I resisted,” Deus says. “I don’t see myself living anywhere else. It might seem strange to say it, but I feel safe here, I can go out and leave my door open. People look out for you.”

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Brazil Police Investigate Panama Bank

Rogerio Jelmayer – The Wall Street Journal, 07/07/2016

SÃO PAULO—Brazil’s authorities are investigating a Panamanian financial institution that allegedly worked with “Panama Papers” law firm Mossack Fonseca  & Co. to set up offshore accounts for Brazilian clients, in an operation that is an offshoot of the Car Wash corruption probe.

Police and prosecutors said Thursday during a press conference that police have detained for questioning seven people in São Paulo state linked with the financial institution, FPB Bank Inc.

According to prosecutors, there is evidence that services provided by FPB and Mossack Fonseca, the Panama City-based law firm whose client records were exposed as part ofthe so-called Panama Papers leak, were used by clients in Brazil to hide money coming from bribes paid in a bid-rigging scheme at state oil company Petróleo Brasileiro SA, or Petrobras.

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Brazil’s corruption probe means a boom time for lawyers

Samantha Pearson – Financial Times, 06/20/2016

With its concrete beds and squat toilets, the Complexo Médico-Penal is probably not where Brazil’s top construction and oil executives had pictured spending their retirement.

Normally reserved for mentally ill prisoners, the prison lies at the end of a potholed road on the banks of the Iraí reservoir in the southern state of Paraná. From the outside, a dilapidated brick archway at CMP’s entrance gives it the appearance of a rundown farm. However, an aerial view reveals its sinister layout, with the cells arranged in the shape of a giant machine gun.

For most of the past year, it has been home to Marcelo Odebrecht, head of Latin America’s largest construction group; João Vaccari Neto, former treasurer of the leftwing Workers’ party, Brazil’s largest political party, and other suspected ringleaders of the vast corruption scandal at Petrobras, the oil company.

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Bugging in Brazil Exposes Fear of Biggest Betrayal Yet

Brazil Congressional Committee Vote Deals Blow to Ex-Speaker

The Associated Press – ABC News, 06/14/2016

One of Brazil’s most powerful men was dealt a major blow on Tuesday, when a legislative ethics committee voted in favor of a motion to strip the former speaker of Congress’ lower house of his mandate over allegations he lied when he denied possessing foreign bank accounts.

Eduardo Cunha has been regarded as one of Brazil’s most skilled political operators, and even though he’s been beset by corruption allegations and was removed from the post of speaker, he still wields considerable influence in Congress. It came as little surprise, then, that Tuesday’s long-awaited vote by the Chamber of Deputies’ ethics committee was a nail-biter. Many observers predicted that Cunha’s supporters would succeed in defeating the measure.

The 11-9 result hinged on one single vote, that of Rep. Tia Eron from the northeastern Bahia state. The vote was postponed last week after Eron failed to show up to the committee.

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Brazil police officer, symbol of corruption crackdown, arrested

Brad Brooks – Reuters, 06/08/2016

He is a symbol of Brazil’s biggest corruption investigation – a ballyhooed battle against impunity for powerful politicians and businessmen.

But on Wednesday, federal police agent Newton Ishii sat in the same jail where he had been photographed and shown on TV escorting countless high-profile politicians and executives linked to a kickback scandal at state-run oil company Petrobras (PETR4.SA).

It is a long fall for Ishii, perhaps the first Brazilian policeman ever to be exalted in a Carnival song, sung by party-goers who wore masks bearing his likeness and dressed in his black police garb.

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Brazil Police Raid Office of Olympic Site Building Consortium

Paul Kiernan – The Wall Street Journal, 06/07/2016

RIO DE JANEIRO—Brazil’s Federal Police raided the headquarters of a consortium of companies building one of the main 2016 Olympic centers on Tuesday, fueling concerns that malfeasance may have tainted Games-related construction projects.

Investigators say they have uncovered evidence of fraud and falsification of documents related to disposal of construction waste—mainly dirt— at Rio’s Deodoro sports complex. A federal judge has also frozen 128 million reais ($37 million) in federal funding from state bank Caixa Econômica Federal to pay for the project.

The consortium building Deodoro consists of Brazilian construction giants Queiroz Galvão and OAS SA, both of which have been implicated in a massive graft scandalsurrounding state oil company Petróleo Brasileiro SA, or Petrobras. Several executives from OAS have been sentenced to up to 16 years in prison for corruption-related offenses, and the company is in bankruptcy protection. Two executives of Queiroz Galvão, which is under investigation, were temporarily arrested in late 2014.

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