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Brazil’s corruption mess heads to Netflix screens

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Brazil’s mammoth “Car Wash” graft scandal will be at the center of a Netflix series this March by the same director behind another tale of Latin American mega-crime, “Narcos.”

Jose Padilha’s new series, “The Mechanism,” opens on March 23 and is heavily based on the graft scandal shaking Brazil over the last four years, involving the president, ex-presidents, top business executives and the country’s state oil company.

Brazilian director Jose Padilha's new series is heavily based on the "Car Wash" scandal that has shook Brazil's political and business elite. (AFP/File / Stefanie Loos  / MANILA BULLETIN)

Brazilian director Jose Padilha’s new series is heavily based on the “Car Wash” scandal that has shook Brazil’s political and business elite. (AFP/File / Stefanie Loos / MANILA BULLETIN)

“In Brazil, corruption is part of the logic, of the structure of politics,” Padilha told journalists Thursday. “Corruption is the norm. This mechanism has no ideology and exists as much on the left as the right.”

The series is mostly set in Brazil in 2013 with a female president, a big oil company called “Petrobrasil” and a vast construction contractor called “Miller & Brecht.”

These are thinly veiled references to players at the heart of the real scandal when it first erupted in 2014.

At that time Dilma Rousseff was Brazil’s first woman president and investigators with Operation Car Wash realized that executives at the giant construction company Odebrecht were systematically bribing politicians to get juicy contracts with Petrobras state-controlled oil company.

Since then, “Car Wash” has expanded, uncovering a sprawling web of embezzlement from Petrobras and bribery between other companies and a host of political parties.

Rousseff’s mentor, ex-president Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, has been sentenced to more than 12 years prison for bribe-taking and current President Michel Temer faces his own graft charges.

Padilha won acclaim for his gritty 2007 film “Elite Squad,” about police battling drug gangs in Rio favelas. He also directed “Narcos” for Netflix, which tells the saga of Columbia’s cocaine kingpin Pablo Escobar.

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