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Thursday, May 12, 2016

Brazil's Watergate, Only Way Bigger

Was Watergate an embarrassment for democracy or an historic vindication of checks and balances, freedom of the press, and the rule of generally? Same question in Brazil, where the Senate voted this morning to move forward with the impeachment trial of President Dilma Rousseff. By law she is required to step down for the duration of the trial, which will last many months. Folks are calling this moment in Brazil’s history the biggest anti-corruption story ever, for any country. But unlike “trials of the century,” which occur about once per decade, the commentary on Brazil may not be hyperbole.

To be clear, Dilma is not going down in the Petrobras investigation. Rather, she allegedly committed fraud in her annual accounting to cover the extent of Brazil’s deficit. Presidential accounting in Brazil is reviewed annually by its federal accounting court, the TCU. That body historically kowtowed to the powers that be; its ministers are politically appointed. But here, the non-political (and fairly highly respected) auditors were able to convince the political ministers that action should be taken, and it was. It’s stunning evidence of changing norms in a country that once glorified corruption with the term, “jeitinho Brasileiro.”

And how did it all happen? Connecting the dots tells a fascinating story. There was a smaller corruption scandal back in 2005 called Mensalao. Then a recession. Then the realization that this poorly governed and cash-strapped country would be hosting the FIFA World Cup and Summer Olympics back-to-back. Then, when the government increased public transportation fares, the people took to the streets in much-publicized protests. In response, Brazil’s Congress enacted a number of anti-corruption laws; I’ll discuss them in subsequent posts. And its auditing court said, “enough is enough.” It was that rare historical pivot point. And it will continue to unfold through the Olympics and for years to come.

Posted by Andy Spalding on May 12, 2016 at 10:16 AM | Permalink

Comments

normally politicens committed fraud in her annual accounting
.those who are really affected by these connect with the their local lawyer. they are surely helped you in appropriate rates.

Posted by: business atorrny in malibu Los Angeles | May 13, 2016 1:41:21 AM

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