Brazil’s top politicians are getting busted with literal suitcases full of cash

From the Washington PostSAO PAULO, Brazil — It was the most cinematic moment in Brazil’s recent political drama. When investigators followed an anonymous tip to an apartment in northern Brazil this week, they stumbled upon a dozen suitcases and boxes stuffed with $16 million in cash — the largest seizure in the history of the country.

“We expected documents, and it was a huge surprise when we found the empty apartment and just the suitcases and boxes covered by a sheet,” Daniel Madruga, who coordinated the operation, told local television station Globo.

Corruption has been an endemic problem in Brazil for centuries, but a massive investigation has unexplained piles of cash popping up around the country like never before. Believed to be the largest corruption case in modern history, the probe uncovered a complex scheme in which top business executives traded bribes for lucrative government contracts. The investigation has snaked its way from a Brasilia Car Wash to the presidential palace, and prosecutors estimate the payoffs reached upwards of $5 billion. …

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During the last several decades, the United States has invested billions of dollars in trying to help the governments of Latin America and the Caribbean deliver better lives for their citizens. This has meant helping them increase internal security by combating the illicit growing and trafficking in narcotics and the activities of terrorist groups, as well as helping them to shore up their democratic and free market institutions.

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