Latin America Advisor

A Daily Publication of The Dialogue

Will Collusion Allegations Derail Operation Car Wash?

Brazilian Justice Minister Sérgio Moro is facing allegations that during his time as a judge, he coordinated with prosecutors in the Car Wash corruption case. He denies wrongdoing. // File Photo: Brazilian Government.

The Brazilian Bar Association in June called for the suspension of Justice Minister Sérgio Moro following reports published in The Intercept Brasil claiming that when he was the judge overseeing the massive “Car Wash” corruption case, he coordinated with prosecutors in the case of former President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, who was convicted and is now imprisoned. Moro denies any wrongdoing. How significant and revelatory are the allegations against Moro, and what do they say about Brazil’s judicial system? What implications do the reports have on the legitimacy of the Car Wash investigation and for Lula’s case in particular? To what extent will the scandal derail President Jair Bolsonaro’s agenda and Moro’s role as justice minister?


Jana Nelson, global fellow at the Woodrow Wilson Center’s Brazil Institute: “The Intercept revelations have tarnished the reputation of both Judge Sérgio Moro and the Lava Jato prosecutor Deltan Dallagnol by showing coordination between a judge and one of the parties to a judicial process. The underlying concern is that due process of law was breached and that one of Brazil’s most important corruption investigations may be derailed. There appears to be a judicial explanation for the coordination between Judge Moro and prosecutor Dallagnol, based on the Packer Model of Crime Control. This model argues that in complex crimes, such as the ones investigated by Lava Jato, the judge needs to be close to the investigators so as to better understand their needs and authorize seizures or arrests. But in the Packer model, the final presiding judge who decides over culpability is different from…”

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