Corruption in Brazil


Brazil’s economy is ranked seventh largest in the world and stands at number one in Latin America. The country is known to have a strong foundation in agriculture, manufacturing, service sectors and mining among other economic activities. Nevertheless, the country has been hitting headlines in leading media outlets as the case of corruption scandals, money laundering, and other organized crimes have been on the rise. Both local news outlets, politicians, and the common man have been grieved by the escalating instances of corruption that has been evident both in the public and private sector (The Guardian, 2015).  It is imperative understanding that the country is one of the highest ranked countries in matters of corruption according to World Bank report released in 2009. Political corruption, for instance, has been the major concern in the country whose economy could be brought to the knees by the perpetual corruption in the country. In this paper, we will discuss current issues of corruption and their effects on politics and economic future of the country.

Recent corruption cases in Brazil

Petrobras Scandal is one of the major corruption scandals in the history of Brazil that is likely to be a nightmare to most politicians. This is a mega corruption scandal that involved one of the giant energy companies in the company and some influential politicians in the country. Petrobras is a leading company that deals with exploration, extraction, refining and sale of both gas and oil products in the country (BBC News, 2015).   The company is under investigation by the Brazilian federal police for allegations of money laundering and other forms of organized crime. It is believed that the monopoly powers and the close links with the government were critical in orchestrating one of the greatest economic crimes in Brazil.

It is alleged that some senior officials of the company have paid politicians to get contracts with money skimmed from the profits realized by the company. According to the country’s watchdog, the kickbacks resulting from the contracts was close to 4 billion Brazilian reais that are equal to $1.6 billion dollars (The Guardian, 2015). Although the company has failed to deny or confirm the involvement of such crimes, it is believed that this scandal has implicated several senior politicians in the country.  The corruption scandal is, even more, significance to on the political front as a result of the alleged involvement of the current president who was previously a board member of the Petrobras Company (CNBC, 2015). It is not clear whether the president benefited in any way from the illegal payments. However, the importance of this scandal to his political future is immense since the majority of the alleged events happened while she was at the helm of the company’s leadership.

It has also been alleged that most of the funds generated through these dubious transactions were channeled to the officials in the ruling coalition of the Workers’ Party and Brazilian Democratic Movement (The Walls Street Journal, 2015). These allegations are likely to have unprecedented political direction due to the heavy presence of politicians mentioned in the scandal. It is also worth noting that in the wake of these allegations, the prosecutor’s office has been proactive in the fight against corruption. Perpetrators of bribery, corruption, and other economic crimes will be severely punished, and there will be efforts to recover proceeds generate from corruption deal (BBC News, 2015).

Another corruption case that has been on the Brazil’s local and international media is the bribery scandal involving the Rolls-Royce Company. It is alleged that the company is being investigated for two economic crimes by the Brazil’s federal anti-corruption authority. These investigations are related to Petrobras Oil Company whose multibillion-dollar corruption scandal is responsible for political turmoil and unrests in the country. Both the Brazilian and UK anti-corruption agencies have stepped up their investigation to determine the role of Rolls-Royce Company in the Petrobras scandal.   Various efforts including testifying in public from the company’s officials will be instrumental in determining the role of this company in the mega corruption scandal.

Roll-Royce is said to have won hundred of million pounds worth of contracts from Petrobras where it supply power turbines for offshore oil platforms. According to the Guardian, the company has been compliant with Brazil authorities as well as their counterparts in the UK and the USA to ensure that levels of corruption are stemmed to a manageable level. Such corruption instances are responsible for the faltering Brazil economy and the current political crisis in the country. Besides the national effects of corruption, Rolls-Royce has also suffered immensely as a result of the ongoing investigations. It is likely that the company may pay up to 20% of its revenues in fines despite the profit warnings that the company has been issuing of late. The company has also faced similar corruption allegation in China and Indonesia which have hampered the company’s development and profitability in the recent years (BBC News, 2015). This is a clear indication that a country can be a victim of imported corruption that can have adverse political and economic consequences in a country.

Reasons for political corruption in Brazil

As earlier aforementioned, the cases of political corruption are on the rise in Brazil. The culture of corruption has been highly nurtured in the country such that it is prevalence is worrying. A major explanation for the increasing cases of corruption is the weak economic and political, economic reforms that for a long term have failed to reach expectations (The Guardian, 2015). It is alleged that corruption has been able to thrive in Brazil due to permissive political culture among both civil servants and the general public. For instance, it is a culture among the Brazilians to vote politicians just for personal reasons. Most of Brazilian population will only vote for people in political leadership with the hope of getting favor in return. This vice has also been escalated by social inequalities that are so prevalent in the Brazilian communities.  These people have limited opportunities that drive them to engage in corrupt dealings (CNBC, 2015). It is, therefore, prudent concluding that political corruption begins with the citizen who votes in corrupt leadership.

Besides the permissive political and economic environment, the cases of corruption in Brazil have also been escalated by the loopholes eminent in the country’s judicial system. It has been noted that the country’s law system has several flaws that give corrupt politicians leeway to escape punishment. A good case example is the case of former mayor Paulo Maluf, who was able to defeat justice despite being liable of overbilling school lunches and using public funds for personal reasons. The justice system has been always lenient to the wealthy and rich people in the country (BBC News, 2015). It has been noted that elections in Brazil are plagued with bribery and corruption and as a result, the country has corrupt leadership. In essence, the country lacks the political will to fight corruption that is likely to cripple the once outstanding regional and global economy.

Corruption and its effects on politics and economy of Brazil

The escalating cases of corruption in Brazil have taken a political twist with the number of politicians involved in corruption especially regarding the biggest ever scandal involving Petrobras. According to the Guardian, more than 54 politicians in Brazil have been allegedly connected to the mega scandal (The Guardian, 2015). The list is even considered to increase as an investigation into this scam advances. Though there has been optimism that liberalized democracy in the country would help solve the perennial problems of inflation, these hopes have been dashed as the vice has been on a tremendous rise over the years. Citizens have been practicing their democratic rights to elect corrupt government officials and as a result, corruption has threatened political stability and economic sustainability of the country.

The Brazilian population has been engaging in civil unrests to demand a fight against corruption remains government’s top agenda.  There have also been political unrests among the politicians as they take corruption as a campaign issue to help them get political mileage. The recent victims of political unrest in the country are the country’s president whose beginning of her second term in office was marred by public protests and impeachment threat from the lawmakers. Dilma Rousseff was allegedly involved in the country’s biggest corruption scandal that brought the country’s economy to its greatest recession in history. Such protests are a threat to national security and economic prosperity of the country (BBC News, 2015). Increase number of corrupt officials in Brazil will only escalate the cases of corruption and subsequently lead to the political and economic downturn in the country.


It is evident that embezzlement of public funds and corruption is what defines the Brazil politics. The country has been experiencing one corruption scandal after the other since the country’s independence.  It is imperative noting that the country’s corrupt are mainly the leaders who freely and without fear advance their selfish interests without the concern for the rest. The corruption culture has been nurtured for a long time where the electorates are bribed to elect corrupt leaders, and this trend is maintained throughout.

Lack of political good will and ineffective justice system has been the major reason the fight against corruption is yet won in Brazil. The existence of the social inequality among the citizens has also been instrumental for the escalating cases of corruption in the country (The Walls Street Journal, 2015). Powerful and rich people in this country do not fear the justice system in the country since they will always be able to negotiate their way out of corridors of justice. Cases of corruption in the country have reached heights that all the politicians in the country are classified as corrupt and criminals. It is, however, prudent understanding that corruption is an institutional phenomenon that has dire consequences if corrective measures are not taken on time (The Guardian, 2015).  Economic downturns and political unrests are some of the adverse effects associated with corruption. To sum it up, corruption in Brazil is real and political good will, effective legal system and civic education among the citizens on dangers of corruption is the only route that the country can escape from this bondage.



BBC News, (2015). Brazil’s continuing corruption problem – BBC News. Retrieved 10 December 2015, from

CNBC, (2015). Why the Petrobras scandal is shaking Brazil.

The Guardian,. (2015). Politicians face investigation in Brazil’s biggest ever corruption scandal.

The Guardian,. (2015). Rolls-Royce faces second investigation in Brazil corruption scandal.

The Walls Street Journal,. (2015). Brazil’s Economic Downturn, Corruption Scandals Shake Leader.

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