Two decades after a political earthquake, a powerful aftershock that should be rocking Brazil apart is being met with thunderous silence.
What is now termed “the Banestado leaks” and “CC5gate” is straight out of vintage WikiLeaks: a list, published for the first time in full, naming names and detailing one of the biggest corruption and money laundering cases in the world in the past three decades.
This scandal allows for the healthy practice of what Michel Foucault characterized as the archeology of knowledge. Without understanding these leaks, it’s impossible to place in proper context events ranging from the sophisticated assault by Washington on Brazil – initially via NSA spying on President Dilma Roussef’s first term (2010-2014) – all the way to the “Car Wash” corruption investigation that jailed Luis Inácio Lula da Silva and opened the way for the election of neofascist patsy Jair Bolsonaro as president.
Credit for the scoop on this George Orwell-does-hybrid-war plotline is due, once again, to independent media. The small website Duplo Expresso, led by young, daring, Bern-based international lawyer Romulus Maya, first published the list.
An epic five-hour podcast assembled the three key protagonists who denounced the scandal in the first place, back in the late 1990s, and now are able to re-analyze it: then-governor of Parana state Roberto Requiao, federal prosecutor Celso Tres and now retired police superintendent Jose Castilho Neto.
Previously, in another podcast, Maya and anthropologist Piero Leirner, Brazil’s foremost analyst of hybrid war, briefed me on the myriad political intricacies of the leaks while we discussed geopolitics in the Global South.
Way back in 1969, the Brazilian Central Bank created what was described as a “CC5 account” to facilitate foreign companies and executives to legally wire assets overseas. For many years the cash flow in these accounts was not significant. Then everything changed in the 1990s – with the emergence of a massive, complex criminal racket centered on money laundering.
The original Banestado investigation started in 1997. Federal prosecutor Celso Tres was stunned to find that from 1991 to 1996 Brazilian currency worth no less than US$124 billion had been wired overseas.