Panama City: Transparency International has announces that the Carwash Task Force (Força-Tarefa Lava Jato) of Brazil has been selected as the winner of the 2016 Anti-Corruption Award. The Anti-Corruption Award honours remarkable individuals and organisations worldwide, journalists, prosecutors, government officials, and civil society leaders who expose and fight corruption.
The Carwash Operation (Operação Lava Jato) began as a local money laundering investigation and has grown into the largest investigation to date uncovering cases of state capture and corruption in Brazil.
According to sources, the state prosecutors from the Carwash Task Force have been on the front line of investigations in Brazil since April 2014. Dealing with one of the world’s biggest corruption scandals, the Petrobras case, they have investigated, prosecuted, and obtained heavy sentences against some of the most powerful members of Brazil’s economic and political elites. To date, there have been more than 240 criminal charges and 118 convictions totalling 1,256 years of jail time, including high-level politicians and businesspeople previously considered untouchable.
With their national campaign “10 Measures against Corruption”, they pushed for legislative reforms to enhance the capacity of public administrators to prevent and detect corruption, and law enforcers to investigate, prosecute and sanction it.
On 30 November, Brazil’s Chamber of Deputies voted for a weakened version of the law. The lawmakers took out essential features on whistleblower protection and illegal campaign financing and introduced an amendment that opens the door to prosecute judges and prosecutors for liability offence. In extreme cases, carrying out their normal functions could be interpreted as being unlawful according to subjective criteria. The new version risks the independence of judges and prosecutors.
The Senate has yet to vote on the legislation and already protests have started to reverse the changes made to the original 10 Measures against Corruption.
“Billions of dollars have been lost to corruption in Brazil, and Brazilians have had enough of the corruption that is ravaging their country. The Carwash Task Force is doing great work in ensuring the corrupt, no matter how powerful they are, are held to account and that justice is served,” said Mercedes de Freitas, Chair of Transparency’s International Anti-Corruption Award Committee. “We are pleased to award the Brazilian prosecutors behind the Carwash Task Force with the 2016 Anti-Corruption Award for their relentless efforts to end endemic corruption in Brazil.”
The ongoing Carwash Operation has triggered additional criminal investigations and proceedings in other sectors and is recognised as a landmark for white-collar criminal prosecution and defence in Brazil. The investigations have gained traction and huge popular support on both national and international levels.
The prosecutors from the Carwash Task Force are the second Brazilian awardees since the launch of Transparency International’s awards in 2000 after the whistleblower Luis Roberto Mesquita who received an Integrity Award in 2002.
It is noted that Transparency International received 580 nominations for 136 individuals for the 2016 Anti-Corruption Award, reinforcing our belief that there is a need to celebrate the many heroes of the fight against corruption. Nominations for this year’s award were submitted by the public and Transparency International chapters around the world. The jury for the award is a committee of 8 individuals from across the world who have been active in the anti-corruption movement for many years. Past winners include corruption fighting journalists, activists and government officials.
The Carwash Task Force will receive the award later today during the 17th International Anti-Corruption Conference in Panama City.