By Lise Alves, Senior Contributing Reporter
SÃO PAULO, BRAZIL – Two years after the start of the largest corruption investigations Brazil has ever witnessed, the Lava Jato (Carwash) has rendered 93 convictions and returned to the government more than R$2.9 billion worth of proceeds from bribes and money laundering. The Federal Public Ministry however requests the retrieval of more than R$ 21.8 billion worth from these bribes.
Data from prosecutors involved in the case report more than R$6.4 billion had been given to former directors of state-owned oil giant Petrobras by some of the largest construction companies in the country for contract benefits.
The Lava Jato scandal led to some of the largest losses registered in Petrobras’ history and significantly affected Brazil’s GDP results in 2015.
According to the IBGE, Brazil’s GDP registered a decline of 3.8 percent in 2015, totaling R$5.904 trillion, the greatest decline since 1990.
Most of the decline was due to the almost forty percent reduction in investments by the Brazilian oil giant.
The Ministry of Finance stated that in the last few years Petrobras has been responsible for a significant part of the country’s investments.
The study shows that from 2010 to 2014 the oil company was responsible for 8.8 percent of all investments made in Brazil, equivalent to 1.8 percent of the GDP.
The Lava Jato investigation started in 2009 by federal judge Sergio Moro, in Curitiba, when Moro started to investigate the financial operations of black market money dealer, Alberto Yousseff.
Youssef, who has been identified as the main character in the corruption and money laundering scandal involving Petrobras contracts, was arrested in March 2014 by the Federal Police in Curitiba. Since his arrest he has named others involved in the scheme.