In Brazil, a political scandal that could derail proposed legislation to legalize casinos is brewing after a disgraced oil and mining billionaire reportedly agreed to provide details of alleged illegal bribes he made to federal lawmakers.
According to a report from G3Newswire, Eike Batista had been planning to partner with foreign firms in order to transform the Hotel Gloria in Rio De Janeiro into a casino. It is alleged that the businessman, who was once one of the richest men in the world with an estimated personal fortune of around $30 billion, was intending to invest heavily in the industry and had already signed contracts with a pair of slot machine suppliers.
However, the Batista is now under house arrest awaiting trial on corruption and money laundering charges with prosecutors alleging that he paid $16.5 million in bribes to the former governor of the state of Rio De Janeiro, Sergio Cabral.
In an attempt to reduce the length of any prison sentence, Batista is now reportedly offering to provide prosecutors with details regarding “the bribe that he gave to congressmen so that the law that legalizes casinos is approved”.
G3Newswire reported that the news will undoubtedly have a negative impact on efforts to pass legislation to legalize casinos in Latin America’s largest nation and could see many lawmakers withdraw their support.
As written, the proposed legislation, which is currently being discussed in the Chamber Of Deputies, would reportedly see Brazil license up to 35 casinos with at least one permitted in each of the county’s 27 states. In addition, the measure would grant larger and more prosperous states such as Sao Paulo, Rio De Janeiro, and Minas Gerais the right to authorize as many as three gambling establishments within wider leisure resort complexes.
The alarming revelations from Batista has reportedly seen many political experts in Brazil recall the country’s Mensalao Scandal of 2004 when it was discovered that gangsters who had made their fortunes running numbers had become involved in the bingo industry. It later emerged that these organized crime figures had moreover bribed members of the left-wing Worker’s Party and other high-ranking government officials in return for influence.