Lava Jato Beyond the Headlines: Expert Perspectives on a Vast Corruption Scandal

September 03, 2019

Investigator: CDEP Affiliate Paul Lagunes (edited with Jan Svejnar)

Lava Jato, or Operation Car Wash, refers to Latin America’s largest corruption scandal to date. Related events began unfolding in Brazil in March of 2014. Construction companies were colluding with employees of Brazil’s state-owned oil company to win public works contracts. The oil company’s employees took bribes, while politicians obtained kickbacks as personal gifts or campaign donations. In spite of the continued interest, years after the Lava Jato scandal initially broke, there are key questions that still need answering. For instance, there is a gap in our understanding as to why some national jurisdictions have responded aggressively to the corruption allegations, while others have attempted to minimize or ignore them. We also have not yet figured out the extent to which organized civil society and the media played a constructive role during the height of the scandal, or which reforms should be prioritized so as to avoid a similar scandal in the future. Yet another question worth raising is, “How should Lava Jato end?” Given the pressing need for thoroughly researched answers to these and related questions, this volume collects fifteen chapters on Lava Jato-related themes.