PRIMER: Operation Car Wash/Lava Jato

Author: John Crabb | Published: 7 Mar 2019

The inspiration for a Netflix series and a household buzz word in Brazil, Operation Car Wash (or Lava Jato, as it is known in Portuguese), is one of the biggest – if not the biggest – corruption scandals in history.

Everyone in Brazil has heard of it. It rocked the country to its core and left practically nobody safe from the prying eyes of investigators. Lava Jato was a corruption scandal like no other that toppled governments, brought down multiple corporate giants, and put numerous politicians behind bars.

The effects of the scandal not only greatly impacted Brazil, but Peru, Colombia, Panama and many other Latin American countries were also caught up in the dirty water.

See also: Long read: A fresh start for Brazil?

What happened? In 2014, a routine operation began in Brazil to investigate and uncover relatively minor acts of corruption that saw black market dealers or doleiros use...