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An Attempt to Turn Back the Clock in Brazil

In overturning two more high-profile convictions from the Lava Jato or Car Wash scandal this week, the Brazilian judiciary has further eroded the legacy of one of the largest corruption investigations ever seen in the region.  Notably, recent rulings - which rely heavily on procedural and other technical grounds - seem to be part of a pattern of judges rolling back convictions that many thought would hold senior politicians and elite businessmen accountable for widespread corruption.  Some warn of further erosion of the rule of law in the region's largest democracy, while others view it as correcting investigative and judicial missteps.  The truth may lie somewhere between.

The recent rulings may tarnish the legacy of the investigation, but the reputations of those implicated will never be the same.  Perhaps more importantly, those doing business in Brazil, and in the region, are now much more aware of the risk of corruption and more likely to undertake thorough due diligence before proceeding.

"A series of recent supreme court orders have threatened to roll back the investigation’s achievements, leading some to warn about a return of impunity."