Brazil corruption probe: Key words and names


With almost a third of Brazil’s cabinet under investigation for alleged corruption, BBC News takes a look at some of the key words and names connected to the probe.

Car Wash (also known as Lava Jato in Portuguese)

Name given to the corruption investigation launched in March 2014 into allegations that Brazil’s biggest construction firms overcharged state-oil company Petrobras for building contracts.

Dilma Rousseff

Former president of Brazil, removed from office on 31 August 2016 for breaking fiscal laws. While Ms Rousseff was on the Petrobras board of directors from 2003 to 2010, she has never been formally accused of corruption or self-enrichment. Operation Car Wash started during her time as president, and her supporters allege that her rivals wanted her gone because she would not shield them from the probe.


Money allegedly received by politicians involved in the Petrobras corruption scheme in exchange for handing out building contracts to companies which overcharged them.

Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva

Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva was president of Brazil from 2003 to 2011. Since he left office he has come under investigation for a number of cases of alleged wrongdoing, which he has all denied.

In July 2016, a judge ruled there was enough evidence for Lula to stand trial for allegedly obstructing justice in connection with Operation Car Wash. Prosecutors also accuse Lula of involvement in an alleged bribery scheme related to work by the construction giant, Odebrecht, in Angola. Most recently, prosecutors accused him of taking bribes from Odebrecht to help the firm win it eight Petrobras contracts.

Michel Temer

Michel Temer took over as president of Brazil after Dilma Rousseff was impeached. Almost a third of his cabinet are now under investigation for alleged corruption. President Temer’s name is not on the list of politicians facing investigation over the Car Wash scandal. But Brazil’s top electoral court is hearing witnesses in a separate case over alleged illegal campaign financing.

The case dates back to the 2014 presidential campaign, when Mr Temer was Ms Rousseff’s running mate. The tribunal will have to decide if illegal funds were used to fund their campaign. If the tribunal’s decision were to go against him, the election result could be annulled and President Temer could be forced from office.


Brazilian-based construction giant, Latin America’s largest construction conglomerate. The firm has confessed to bribing officials to secure contracts in Brazil and other countries in the region. It has agreed to pay a fine of $3.5bn (£2.8bn). Its former CEO, Marcelo Odebrecht, is serving a 19-year prison sentence for corruption. He was found guilty of paying more than $30m (£21m) in bribes to Petrobras officials in exchange for contracts and influence. He and 76 other Odebrecht officials are giving investigators information as part of a plea deal.


Brazil’s state-run oil company and one of the biggest employers in Brazil with more than 78,000 workers on its books. At the centre of the corruption scandal which has engulfed Brazil for the past three years. Petrobras said in 2015 that its corruption costs hit $2bn (£1.6bn). Senior former Petrobras executives are serving lengthy prison sentences for corruption.

Sergio Moro

Sergio Moro, dubbed Super Moro by his supporters, is the federal judge in charge of the Car Wash inquiry. Judge Moro divides opinion in Brazil. Some admire him for his tenacity and willingness to go after the most influential politicians in the land, while others have questioned his methods such as leaking a phone call between former president Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva and the then-president, Dilma Rousseff.

Source: BBC