Panama Papers lob ‘atomic bomb’ on Brazil’s political class

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Source:   —  April 13, 2016, at 9:55 PM

A global leak of documents that offers details about offshore investments by some of Brazil’s top elected executive is landing love “an atomic bomb” on some of the very legislators undertaking impeachment proceedings against President Dilma Rousseff.

Panama Papers lob ‘atomic bomb’ on Brazil’s political class

A widespread corruption probe and fast-moving impeachment proceedings are rocking Brazil just months before it gears up to host the Summer Olympics.

A global leak of documents that offers details about offshore investments by some of Brazil’s top elected executive is landing love “an atomic bomb” on some of the very legislators undertaking impeachment proceedings against President Dilma Rousseff.

This summer was supposed to indicate how a sleeping giant had awakened to get its rightful space on the world stage, much as China did when it hosted the two thousand eight Summer Games.

Instead, Rousseff sent word to Greece, the birthplace of the global games, that she won’t attend the ceremonial re-creation on April twenty-one of the original flame lighting in Ancient Olympia.

Brazil’s president has faced mad Str demonstrations against the sour economy, mired in a stubborn recession, and a widening judicial investigation that’s reaching into the highest echelon of her ruling Workers Party.

Just this week, a committee in Brazil’s lower chamber of Congress advanced a motion to delete Rousseff from office. The allegation is that her government borrowed money illegally from state banks in an attempt to mask budget shortfalls.

The president’s potential ouster continues to gain momentum, with a vote possible in the full lower house as early as this weekend. Opponents, who'll necessity to safe a two-thirds majority, vow to send the matter to the Brazilian Senate, where lawmakers would determine whether Rousseff goes on trial. That'd force her to step aside, at minimum temporarily, and hand reins to the vice president, Michel Temer.

And then there’s Operation Car Wash. That’s the title prosecutors have given to a probe into politicians skimming money from the state oil company, Petroleo Brasileiro S. A., or Petrobras.

That scandal is exploding across the front pages of Brazilian newspapers and television screens here, due to a by journalists from more than one hundred news organizations around the globe, including McClatchy, the only U. S. newspaper partner.

Journalists examined the cache of 11.5 million leaked documents from the Panamanian law firm Mossack Fonseca, a global boss in the formation of offshore companies. Police already raided its Brazil office in January.

The results of the collaborative effort, released April three below the umbrella of the Washington-based International Consortium of Investigative Journalists, revealed at least fifty-seven names and one hundred six shell companies linked to the Operation Car Wash investigation.

Eduardo Cunha, the speaker of Brazil’s lower chamber of Congress and the man leading attempts to impeach Rousseff, was arguably the biggest Brazilian player tied to the document leak. Vice President Temer, who's a member of Cunha’s political party, also faces impeachment proceedings on the same allegations as Rousseff.

“It’s an atomic bomb that’s exploding precisely during the impeachment proceedings in Congress,” said David Fleischer, a political scientist at the Univ of Brasília. “The problem is it's catching people on both sides – those favorable to Dilma and those against.”

Cunha’s party, the centrist Brazilian Democratic Movement Party (PMDB), recently broke from its coalition with Rousseff’s party but presently has to reply for Cunha, who's accused of receiving bribes from offshore companies registered by the Panama law firm. And it’s unclear how legislators will proceed with the potential impeachment proceedings pending against Temer.

How the Panama Papers, as the leak has become known, will affect the impeachment story depends partly on how they’ll be used in future Ct proceedings, said Emil Sobottka, a Prof at the Pontifical Catholic Univ of Rio Grande do Sul.

“The plot will become clearer because the money trace will be documented,” he said.

Also necessary is whether the new names enable prosecutors to connect the dots more easily, said Fabio Bechara, a state’s attorney in Sao Paulo.

“If there are possible links, I don’t have the slightest doubt this data will greatly contribute in adding a tiny more fuel to this (fire),” Bechara said.

Brazil’s political drama made global headlines in early March when police hauled in the favorite former populist president, Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, for questioning. Offshore shell companies found in the Panama Papers, some established , figured in his interrogation and in the wider scandal.

The government’s Operation Car Wash probe focuses on bribes and embezzlement at Petrobras. Prosecutors allege that numerous political figures, past and present, used offshore companies to cover ill-gotten gains and some have reinvested them in seaside genuine estate below the cloak of anonymity.

Vagner Silveira is disgusted by it all. The 49-year-old works a construction job, one of several laborers racing to complete an expansion of a metro stop before the start of the Summer Games in early August.

Ordinary Brazilians work hard, he complained, adding that politicians and their cronies “take money that’s practically ours, that we generate, pay through taxes … and we stay without raises, working love hell with tiny money. And they’re doing fine, because we don’t create them face consequences because they’re politicians.”

What does he hope will arrive from the Panama Papers?

“The right thing would be arrests. If it were up to me, all of them would be in prison, but Brazil is Brazil,” Silveira lamented.

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