Breakfast Seminar Overview: Lessons from the Brazilian "Car Wash Operation", dubbed the biggest corruption scandal in history

Published: 8/2/2018

On Tuesday 30 January 2018, Enyo Law were delighted to welcome Dr Peter Collecott CMG, former ambassador to Brazil and current Co-Chairman of the Ambassador Partnership, in joining Enyo’s Daniel Levy and Paul Austin, Head of Business Intelligence at Enyo, to its latest Arbitration Breakfast Seminar.

The focus of the seminar was the “Car Wash Operation” (locally known as “lava jato”), involving the Brazilian oil giant Petrobras and some of the world’s largest infrastructure companies and the arbitration proceedings which have arisen (in Brazil and beyond) as a result. The speakers discussed the operation and the aftermath of Car Wash, dubbed by The Guardian as “the biggest corruption scandal in history” and shared their varied experiences and take-away lessons with the audience.

Daniel Levy, an experienced counsel and academic in Brazil, started by giving an overview of the scandal, how it first came to light back in 2014 and the current status of related arbitration proceedings and civil claims in Brazil and other jurisdictions such as Colombia, Panama, Singapore and Switzerland. Having acted on behalf of investors against Petrobras in relation to Car Wash, Daniel Levy was able to bring his own personal experience to the seminar. He shared some eye-watering figures with the audience to convey the enormity and reach of Car Wash, and went on to describe the fearless methods of federal judge Sergio Moro in uncovering the fraud and bringing criminal charges against its perpetrators, as well as the complex web of related arbitration proceedings.

Dr Peter Collecott CMG, ambassador to Brazil between 2004 and 2008, discussed the political and economic consequences of the scandal on Brazilian society and business. Dr Collecott also offered a unique insight into the scandal’s likely impact on Brazil’s political culture and morale, particularly given Brazil’s economic and social dependence on Petrobras, one of the country’s largest employers and which contributes a significant amount to GDP. Dr Collecott also shared his thoughts on what is likely to happen in the upcoming Brazilian presidential election including the potentially seismic impact of the impeachment and imprisonment of Dilma Rousseff and other political figures such as Luiz Lula da Silva (colloquially known as Lula). Dr Collecott concluded by discussing the future and the chances for a younger generation to help re-build Brazil’s increasingly fragile political culture.

Paul Austin discussed his views of the challenges raised by investigating a fraud of this scale and reach, and particularly against powerful perpetrators operating at the top of a nation’s government and business. Paul stressed the importance of using business intelligence in conjunction with, and often led by, an experienced law firm from the jurisdiction, to ensure that the intelligence that is uncovered is able to be properly adduced in the desired claims and arbitration proceedings.

About Enyo’s Arbitration Breakfasts
  • Enyo’s arbitration breakfasts are periodical seminars organised by our International Arbitration Group covering topics of specific interest to outside counsel specialising in international arbitration.
  • These breakfasts aim to offer to participants information and tips that are helpful in the practice of international arbitration.
  • Enyo’s arbitration breakfasts are by invitation only and places are limited. Please do feel free to contact us at if you would like to be added to our mailing list.

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