Will we find the Clinton Foundation in the Odebrecht scandal sweeping Latin America?
It started in Brazil, and it is now moving into just about every other country in the region. We are not talking about Zika, but rather Odebrecht!
Let me share this story from the Washington Post:
Odebrecht made a humble start in Brazil's muggy northeast, where in 1944, founder Norberto Odebrecht launched a neighborhood construction firm with global ambitions.
"He believed in a model based on trusting people," said one former Odebrecht executive, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the investigation.
"He said, 'If I choose them well, the sky's the limit.' "
The sky was indeed the limit as the company began to make money the old-fashioned way.
Then Brazil's crony capitalism got in the way, and Mr. Odebrecht figured out that bribing politicians is a good way of getting ahead and keeping the regulators out of your business.
It was working beautifully as late as the 2014 World Cup:
Odebrecht was on a cloud during the first decade of the millennium, when Brazil won hosting rights to the 2014 World Cup and the 2016 Olympic Games, affirming its status as a rising star.
With the charismatic President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva touting Odebrecht abroad, the company secured lucrative foreign contracts to build highways, transportation systems, stadiums and power plants.
But Odebrecht's other export was Brazilian-scale corruption, undermining countries it was supposed to be building up.
The company is today at the core of Brazil's biggest-ever graft scandal, a $2 billion kickback scheme in which nearly 100 executives and politicians have been imprisoned.
Then it just went crazy, and now it has become one of the biggest, if not the biggest, scandal in Latin American history.
It is Exhibit A of what crony capitalism has done to Brazil and many other countries:
The fallout is spreading across the region, creating a test for other countries tainted by Odebrecht's dirty money.
Prosecutors in Brazil, the United States and elsewhere have unearthed evidence that could implicate current and former presidents across the Americas in criminal conduct.
Anti-corruption protesters marched in the streets last month in the Dominican Republic, where Odebrecht allegedly paid $92 million in bribes but where no charges have been filed.
Colombia's top prosecutor made an explosive allegation this month: that Odebrecht channeled $1 million in illegal donations into President Juan Manuel Santos's 2012 reelection campaign. But the jailed ex-senator who allegedly made the claim denied it a week later.
In Panama, 17 business executives and former officials have been charged, and one former Odebrecht executive has said he paid bribes to the sons of former president Ricardo Martinelli. The sons deny it. Prosecutors investigating the Odebrecht case have also raided the offices of Mossack Fonseca, the law firm at the heart of the "Panama Papers" leak.
Then there are countries such as Venezuela, where Odebrecht has left bridges to nowhere rusting in the jungle. The late Hugo Chávez gave the company $11 billion in contracts, and Odebrecht paid an estimated $98 million in bribes, according to the Justice Department...
And in Ecuador, where leftist Lula ally Rafael Correa is not running for reelection, his party's loss in an upcoming runoff vote could open the books on $116 million worth of deals allegedly greased with $34 million in bribes.
As they say in Spanish, all of this leaves with my "boca abierta," or mouth open. The numbers are huge, the territory is wide, and we can say "unprecedented" without any trouble.
My reaction is that this may be good for the region because so much of the corruption in Brazil, Venezuela, and Ecuador is with left-wing regimes.
In other words, they've been preaching and singing kumbaya while practicing some good old-fashioned in-your-pocket corruption.
The left is in the middle of this mess, with one hand waving at the workers and the other taking bribes from executives!
My question is this: how much longer before we find the Clinton Foundation playing in this game?
We remember the connection between the Clinton Foundation and FIFA, another corrupt enterprise.
The Odebrecht episode is exactly the kind of place where you would find President Clinton looking for cash and selling access to his wife, then secretary of state and potentially president of the U.S.
Call me cynical, but there has to be a Clinton floating in this pay to play movie!
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