BRASILIA – Brazil did not invent or export corruption rings, Transparency Minister Torquato Jardim said in an interview with EFE on Tuesday.
Jardim was referring to the international ramifications of the “Lava Jato” (Car Wash) scandal, which has implicated prominent politicians and business executives in a number of countries.
The investigation of a massive pay-to-play corruption scheme centered on state-controlled oil company Petrobras revealed that construction giant Odebrecht also engaged in illegal practices in Angola, Argentina, Colombia, the Dominican Republic, Ecuador, Guatemala, Mexico, Mozambique, Panama, Peru and Venezuela.
“We have a Brazilian company that operated in a questionable manner in a dozen countries” and “the repercussions are very big,” the minister said, adding that the case has raised “political questions affected by this reprehensible conduct” in these nations.
Jardim said the case was not about corrupt systems or methods invented or exported by Brazil, noting that it was “a problem of human nature” that must be fought locally and globally via judicial cooperation.
“Private companies are not the only ones that should adopt more transparent practices,” Jardim said, adding that the public sector must also work to fight corruption.
Brazil has implemented programs and systems to monitor the public sector and state-owned enterprises in an effort to “expand and plant a moral reserve” in areas where corruption is rooted, the minister said.
These systems have detected many illegal in an attempt to have a “cultural revolution” in Brazil, where the public backlash against corruption started in 2005 with a scandal involving members of Congress who took bribes, Jardim said.
Prosecutors say Odebrecht and other large Brazilian engineering companies paid bribes to corrupt Petrobras officials in exchange for inflated contracts and funneled money to politicians who provided cover for the graft.