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Brazil elections: Endorsement of President Bolsonaro by prominent Operation Car Wash players under the guise of anti-corruption deeply misleading

Issued by Transparency International Brazil

Transparency International Brazil denounces statements made by former judge Sergio Moro and former prosecutor Deltan Dallagnol that invoked the fight against corruption in expressing their support for President Jair Bolsonaro’s re-election. While both are free to publicly endorse their preferred candidate in the upcoming run-off vote, associating President Bolsonaro with the fight against corruption is deeply misleading. It is also an immense disservice to the cause.

Since 2019, Transparency International Brazil has documented numerous incidents of corruption within the Bolsonaro government – but to no avail. What’s more, in recent years Brazil has seen an unprecedented dismantling of anti-corruption frameworks that took decades to build.

In pursuit of political favours and unchecked power, the Bolsonaro administration recruited some of the most corrupt actors in Brazilian politics to public administration. The give-and-take approach was also openly applied to some appointments to the judiciary. In the legislature, an alliance with the Centrão, an informal political bloc that tends to side with incumbent governments in exchange for perks, has helped institutionalise corruption via the so-called secret budget. This scheme for transferring funds from the federal government to lawmakers’ constituencies bypasses regular transparency and control mechanisms.

There are also extensive reports that the Bolsonaro family itself – in addition to their alleged ties to violent organised crime groups – has embezzled public resources and laundered their illicit gains. To ensure that they and their cronies can act with impunity, the Bolsonaro administration launched a full-scale attack on the country’s existing checks and balances, threatening Brazil’s democratic regime. To sabotage legal accountability, the Prosecutor General’s Office, the Federal Police and the Federal Revenue Service were captured. To sabotage political accountability, members of the Congress were bought off through the secret budget scheme. To sabotage social accountability, public information was suppressed, journalists and activists were targeted, and civic participation was obstructed.

At many moments in recent history and in many different parts of the world, unscrupulous actors have hijacked the anti-corruption conversation – only to advance authoritarian rule. Transparency International Brazil is appalled that individuals who – as part of the consequential Operation Car Wash – once led the fight against corporate and political corruption are lending their image to corrupt and authoritarian political forces in Brazil.

Those who truly care about fighting corruption also fight for rights, democracy and social justice. Transparency International Brazil is determined to stay on this course – for the common good.