Brazilian prosecutors plotted to leak confidential information from the Car Wash corruption probe to Venezuelan opposition figures at the suggestion of Justice Minister Sergio Moro, then the presiding judge for the investigation. The private conversations revealing the plotting, which took place over the Telegram chat app beginning in August 2017, indicate that the prosecutors’ motivation was expressly political, not judicial: They discussed the release of compromising information about the Venezuelan government of Nicolás Maduro, which had just taken steps to reduce the power of opposition politicians and removed the country’s prosecutor general, a Maduro critic and ally of the Car Wash prosecutors.
“It may be the case to make the Odebrecht deposition about bribes in Venezuela public. Is it here or with the PGR [Public Prosecutor]?” Moro wrote to Deltan Dallagnol, the coordinator of the Car Wash investigation, on the afternoon of August 5. Odebrecht is a Brazil-based construction company whose multinational, multibillion-dollar corruption scheme had been cracked open by the investigation.
Dallagnol replied hours later, outlining their options: “It can’t be made public simply because it would violate the agreement, but we can send spontaneous information [to Venezuela] and this would make it likely that somewhere along the way someone would make it public.” Dallagnol continued: “There will be criticism and a price, but it’s worth paying to expose this and contribute to the Venezuelans.”