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Politics

Bolsonaro Says Brazil Is Corruption-Free, Ends Carwash Probe

Updated on

Bolsonaro Says Brazil Is Corruption-Free, Ends Carwash Probe

  • Sergio Moro, Car Wash judge, says move represents corruption
  • Many police investigations could implicate Bolsonaro’s family
Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro, right, with former Justice Minister Sergio Moro
Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro, right, with former Justice Minister Sergio Moro Photographer: Evaristo Sa/AFP via Getty Images
Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro, right, with former Justice Minister Sergio Moro
Photographer: Evaristo Sa/AFP via Getty Images

President Jair Bolsonaro said he’s put an end to the country’s long-running Carwash probe, which has sent hundreds of Brazil’s political and business power brokers to jail, because corruption is no longer an issue in his government.

The far-right president, elected in 2018 on a law-and-order platform, said he was “proud” to see the end of the operation that, since its creation in 2014, landed behind bars former President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, his political rival, as well as chief executives of construction companies who were sentenced for participating in a large bribery scheme that diverted billions of dollars from public coffers.

“I ended Carwash because there is no more corruption in the government,” Bolsonaro said during an aviation event in Brasilia. “I know this is no virtue, this is an obligation.”

Sergio Moro, the judge once in charge of the Car Wash probe and the former justice minister in Bolsonaro’s government before turning on the president and leaving this year, said on Twitter Wednesday night that corruption was still alive in Brazil.

“The attempts to end the Car Wash investigation represent the return of corruption. It’s the triumph of the old politics and schemes that destoy Brazil and weaken its economy and democracy,” he said. “We know this film.”

During a speech Thursday morning, Bolsonaro commented that his current justice minister was better than Moro, and that his government had a “commitment to combatting corruption.”

Read More: No One Has Ever Made a Corruption Machine Like This One

While the operation is still ongoing -- earlier Wednesday, police launched the 76th phase of the probe -- Bolsonaro’s administration has been dismantling the structure behind Carwash for months, with many of its members resigning of moving to other positions. Sergio Moro, who was the lead judge and public face of the operation before joining the government to become Justice Minister, resigned from his position in April, accusing Bolsonaro of trying to meddle in the federal police.

The federal police, akin to the FBI, has been carrying out a number of investigations with potential to implicate Bolsonaro’s sons, including a probe on the spread of fake news and another on alleged irregularities with their employees at Rio de Janeiro’s state assembly. The family, which has not been involved in the Carwash probe, denies any wrongdoing.

(Updates with Moro comment)