Brazil, Latin America: Week in Review, Southern Cone

Second Multi-Billion Dollar Corruption Scheme in Brazil, May Surpass Petrobras Case

March 27, 2015 By Staff

Top Story — Brazil’s Federal Police on Thursday revealed an ongoing investigation into a multi-billion dollar corruption scheme within CARF, a government agency concerned with the issuing of taxes and fines. Authorities believe the scheme misappropriated more money than the case involving oil-giant Petrobras — the scope of the latter having roiled the country for months.

Police conducted 41 searches in the states of Ceará and São Paulo, as well as the capital Brasilia on Thursday morning, confiscating one million real (around $314,000) in cash and luxury vehicles. Authorities announced that they are aware of 5.7 billion real ($1.7 billion) in misappropriated funds thus far, but that the scheme may have cost Brazilian taxpayers upwards of three times more.

The investigation began in 2013, and was internally referred to as “Operation Custodian.” The findings reportedly show that members of CARF traded information pertaining to ongoing tax and fine negotiations to companies in exchange for referrals.

Headlines from the Western Hemisphere

North America

  • Thursday marked the six-month anniversary of the disappearance of 43 students in Mexico’s Guerrero state, and the students’ parents and protesters marked the day with a rally in Mexico City demanding the suspension of federal elections in Guerrero.
  • The Vatican’s top diplomat will be joining U.S. President Barack Obama and other Latin American leaders at next month’s Summit of the Americas, marking the first time the Vatican has been invited to the meeting.


  • Cuban and U.S. diplomats will meet again next Tuesday to discuss human rights, and while many agree that significant changes seem unlikely to come from the meeting, it is nevertheless a sign of progress in ongoing diplomatic talks between the two countries.
  • Haiti continues to struggle with an ongoing Cholera outbreak that many say was caused in 2010 by poor sanitation standards at a UN military base near the Artibonite River.

Central America

  • Nearly half a million Salvadorans staged a march on Thursday in protest against rampant violence in the country, just hours after eight suspected gang members died in a gunfight with police in the capital San Salvador.


  • A report by the U.S. Office of the Inspector General released Thursday alleges that DEA agents working in Colombia threw lavish sex parties, some of which were paid for by local drug traffickers, even those they were investigating.
  • Venezuela has cut its oil shipments to Cuba by half since 2012, an apparent effort at bringing down a budget deficit that has at times exceeded $30 billion as the country’s economy falters.

Southern Cone

  • An Argentine appeals court on Thursday upheld an earlier ruling that threw out charges against President Cristina Fernández for obstructing an investigation into a 1994 bombing, first filed by prosecutor Alberto Nisman, whose subsequent death remains a mystery.
  • Brazil’s economy is forecast to shrink by half a percentage point in 2015, its Central Bank announced Thursday, along with the latest confirmation of its estimate that GDP fell by one tenth of a percent in 2014, a poor showing that President Dilma Rousseff said would be worse had it not been for the government’s aggressive spending.

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