By Lise Alves, Senior Contributing Reporter

SÃO PAULO, BRAZIL – Transparency International’s Corruption Perception Index 2015 raised Brazil seven positions, going to number 76 out of 168 countries surveyed. The country is the biggest index loser in the Americas, according to the global watchdog, due mainly to the Petrobras corruption scandal.

Former Petrobras director, Paulo Roberto Costa, speaks to Congressmen in Brasilia about corruption scandal
Former Petrobras director, Paulo Roberto Costa, speaks to Congressmen in Brasilia about corruption scandal, photo by Valter Campanato/Agencia Brasil.

“Dealing with many entrenched corruption issues, Brazil has been rocked by the Petrobras scandal in which politicians are reported to have taken kickbacks in exchange for awarding public contracts. As the economy crunches, tens of thousands of ordinary Brazilians have lost their jobs already. They didn’t make the decisions that led to the scandal. But they’re the ones living with the consequences,” says the report released on Wednesday.

According to the NGO, Petrobras is at the center of the country’s ‘largest ever corruption scandal’ involving bribery, kickbacks and money laundering reportedly worth over US$2 billion.

In all, more than fifty politicians and eighteen companies have been accused of paying the executives of one of the world’s top oil companies for advantages in obtaining contracts.

The scandal, says analysts at Transparency International, has shaken Brazil’s political leadership and plunged the country into a major political crisis that has affected the nation’s economy. This, as well as the plunge in oil prices in the past year, left the oil giant weary of undertaking any new projects, leading to a decrease in the country’s GDP.

Transparency International has also made a list of the fifteen cases it feels ‘best fit our definition of grand corruption’ and is asking citizens around the world to vote on what they think is the most emblematic corruption case of 2015. As of Wednesday morning, Petrobras had over 11,700 votes, only behind Viktor Yanukovych, Former President of Ukraine.

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