Four years ago, the Federal Police launched an operation to bust a scheme that used a gas station as a front for money laundering. The marshals narrowed their investigation down to Alberto Yousseff, a well-known money launderer with previous convictions and a close relationship with major political parties.
At the time, it sounded like yet another small bust – that is, until it was discovered that Yousseff had paid for a Land Rover for an executive at Petrobras, Brazil’s state-owned oil and gas company. That was the initial thread that led prosecutors to a vast corruption scheme involving dozens of high-profile politicians and the richest businessmen in the land.
Over 140 convictions have been announced – targets include former President Lula – and one-third of Congress has been placed under investigation. For the first time in history, Brazilians saw billionaires in handcuffs.