More than one in 10 of Brazil’s high-ranking politicians, among them President Michel Temer, received campaign donations from companies linked to modern-day slavery, an investigation has found.
Party leaders, state secretaries and five of ex-president Dilma Rousseff’s governors are among the elected parliamentarians who received R$3.5m (£760,000) during the last general election, according to the NGO Repórter Brasil.
Temer’s election committee was found to have received R$700,000 (£150,000) from OAS, a Brazilian construction company found guilty of keeping 111 workers in slave-like conditions during the expansion of São Paulo airport, in 2013.
“This is just one of an ocean of shocking practices that Temer’s administration has exposed,” said Xavier Plassat, head of the Pastoral Land Commission (CPT).
President Temer is being investigated for corruption as part of the nationwide Lava Jato (“Car Wash”) enquiry following accusations that he received bribes from JBS, the meat-packing company. JBS was at the heart of a series of Brazilian corruption and meat-industry scandals last year, including investigations of reported slavery in its supply chain.
Though receiving donations is neither a crime nor forbidden by Brazil’s electoral commission, the report provides an insight into how closely connected lawmakers can be with companies and individuals linked to illegal practices.
Twenty-one of the 51 MPs who received donations from companies identified by the authorities as using slave labour are part of the extremely influential rural caucus in congress. This lobby has continually attempted to limit efforts to combat slavery in Brazil and, late last year, supported Temer’s attempt to restrict the legal definition of modern-day slavery.