Police target corruption scheme in Amazon state

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Brazil’s Federal Police have launched a massive operation to dismantle an alleged corruption and money laundering ring operating within the government of Acre, an Amazonian state bordering Bolivia. Among the targets is Governor Gladson Cameli, who won re-election in a landslide last year.

According to the investigation, a criminal organization operated in cahoots with state officials to rig bids, inflate contracts, pay bribes, and launder money embezzled from major infrastructure projects in health and education.

Since 2019, Mr. Cameli’s administration has paid more than BRL 286 million (USD 55 million) to companies involved in the scheme. According to the Federal Comptroller General’s Office (CGU), the sums could represent a “significant loss to the public purse.”

A court decision froze more than BRL 120 million in assets belonging to people under investigation. Authorities also executed 89 search and seizure warrants in nine states, unsealed the bank and tax records of 70 people, removed 31 suspects from office, and suspended the activities of 15 companies. 

Mr. Cameli, along with 56 other suspects, was forced to surrender his passport to authorities.

Acre is one of the states with the lowest human development indexes in Brazil, with more than 45 percent of its population living below the poverty line. “This scenario can be attributed to public investment being burned out by corruption cases,” says the CGU.

The anti-corruption operation is the continuation of two others that took place in 2021. The governor told the press that he “trusts that everything will be investigated and clarified” and denied any wrongdoing.

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