If you’re planning some sort of scandal, you might want to avoid using messaging services. Case in point: BlackBerry Messenger played a vital role in uncovering a large corruption scandal in Brazil, reports the Wall Street Journal.
Up until now, Brazilian prosecutors relied on confessions from company insiders in order to expose a money skimming operation, conducted between money launderers and clients ranging from Brazilian lawmakers to construction contractors. However, law enforcement authorities were able to obtain thousands of BBM messages sent between those involved to further implicate those involved in the scheme.
Thanks to the obtained messages, the authorities filed criminal charges against more than 100 people as well as 50 Brazilian politicians.
Called Operation Car Wash, the scheme involved executives from some of Brazil’s largest construction companies conspiring with insiders from Petrobras, a Brazilian oil company, to skim hundreds of millions of dollars from the company. This was done through inflated contracts. Some of the money later made its way to a slush fund that would keep politicians happy and finance their campaigns.
Out of the more than 100 people implicated in the operation, four were Petrobras executives, and at least 23 were construction company executives. Unsurprisingly, lawyers representing these companies have either denied client involvement, refused to comment on the matter, or said they and their clients were cooperating with authorities.
One of the defense attorneys, Edward Carvalho, argued that the Brazilian police obtained the messages unlawfully. However, authorities argued that they obtained these messages following the letter of the law. A judge refused to toss out the messages in an earlier attempt to discredit the information, but Carvalho is preparing an appeal.