Nelma Kodama: The Queen of Dirty Money (2024) Movie Script

Nelma Kodama
was an enabler.
You could just call her,
and the problem would be solved.
My high point wasn't getting to the end,
where no woman had ever gotten.
It was getting there with style.
Did I break the law?
What is "breaking the law"?
Black-market dollar dealers are the law.
The law of their own bank.
They don't abide
by the Central Bank's rules.
It's all about honor codes,
character, your word...
When I sat at my desk
and started taking calls,
it was like conducting an orchestra.
What a beautiful thing.
You're buying and selling currency.
You don't know who is on the other end,
however, that person trusts
that you will deliver.
It's called "white-collar crime"
for a reason.
You can always seem cleaner
than you really are.
Dollar dealer Nelma Kodama was
the first arrest in Operation Car Wash.
She was arrested while trying
to travel to Italy with 200,000 euros
hidden in her underwear.
How could Beethoven play?
Or Mozart?
How did they do it?
She was convicted of corruption,
organized crime, and currency evasion.
She's the one who sang
"Amada Amante," remember?
That iconic moment of her singing
with some congressmen singing along.
It's like a banana republic.
Her understanding of a crime is different,
but financial crimes are still crimes.
And she also posted on social media
when she took her own ankle monitor off.
At the ruling, the judge stated
that she had done a disservice
to Brazilian society...
It's unacceptable.
You can't trust anything she says.
Behind every fortune, there is a crime.
There is money laundering,
there is a dollar dealer,
there is a Nelma.
At the fringes of politics,
there is a whole ecosystem
to keep dirty money flowing.
Because of corruption,
the need to pay bribes...
...distribute illegal advantages,
there is a whole ecosystem
of black-market dollar dealers
and financial operators
who work to circulate this money
in this underworld under the law's radar.
There's the term "operator."
In Pulp Fiction,
there's The Cleaner, who fixes things.
She was a type of "cleaner"
for congressmen
and for some dollar dealers.
The enabler may seem secondary,
but they are absolutely key
because they connect the dots and close
the loop of criminal transactions.
Life is a game.
I go all in.
If I win, I win it all.
If I lose, I lose it all.
Doing things by halves is no fun.
When I earned my first million dollars,
I was less than 30 years old.
I'd say, "I'm a millionaire."
Soon after, I lost three million dollars.
I woke up saying,
"I'm going to kill myself."
Because the problem
isn't losing what you earned.
It's losing what's not yours.
Can you imagine?
"Dollar dealer loses three million
and throws herself in a dumpster."
That wouldn't suit me.
I said, "No, I'm better than that."
"If I lost three,
it's because I can make three."
I took a shower.
I put on my best Chanel perfume,
and I said,
"I'm good to go."
"I'm capable of making three, four, five."
Welcome to my home.
I built every detail in this place.
Every detail carries my personality,
my taste, my soul, my life, and my work.
Speaking of work,
this is my desk.
This is a desk
that I bought at an antique store,
and I brought it to Brazil.
I bought all my furniture in Italy.
I was dead set on knocking down walls
because I like
the spaciousness, the freedom.
"Hey, dollar stealer! Dollar stealer!"
I say, "No, it's dollar dealer."
- Hey, dollar stealer!
- Hey, what's up?
Dollar dealer.
That title follows me around.
On the days before coming to prison,
my name was mentioned
on the radio every day.
"Brazil's biggest dollar dealer is coming
to the Mata Escura complex."
The journalist would say,
"If she gets her hands on a phone,
she'll take over the yard."
"She'll take over the prison."
I love shoes.
The leather,
the subtlety,
the design of the heels.
I'm sure I could wear a different pair
every day for over a year.
I had seven cars.
One for each day of the week.
Oh, jewelry.
That's my weakness.
Jewelry, jewelry, jewelry.
Even the word sparkles. "Jewels."
I think a woman without jewelry
is a naked woman.
I never made plans.
But I always had a plan.
Does that make sense?
I'm a dentist.
I wanted my financial freedom...
to set up my practice...
buy a two-bedroom apartment...
drive an imported car
and make $5,000 a month.
That's what I wanted.
So that was a plan.
My family owned a slaughterhouse
and a butcher shop in Diadema.
And all of a sudden, I started working
on the financial side of things.
At the time, we worked with hot money,
which was money borrowed
from one day to the next.
I'd take out the loan to buy dollars.
Then my manager said,
"Nelma, I'll introduce you to a currency
exchange office in Santo Andr."
She said, "Ask for Csar."
Csar was actually Jlio Csar Emlio,
Norma Regina Emlio's brother.
She was a Federal Revenue agent,
married to Joo Carlos da Rocha Mattos,
a federal judge.
I became a VIP client.
One day, I was there and I said,
"I'll have dinner with this guy."
"He might be interesting.
He's a dollar dealer."
That's how my relationship
with him started.
And how I started
my craft as a dollar dealer.
From girlfriend
to black-market dollar dealer.
It happened very fast.
I had never worked
with this kind of market
of buying and selling dollars.
And I was just supposed
to answer the phone.
I couldn't trade. Especially because
I didn't know how to trade.
The dollar was always rising.
Jlio would yell,
"The dollar is at one real!"
"Now, it's at 1,20
and selling at 1,60!"
So I started to get it, and I said,
"This business is kind of cool."
Rocha Mattos was arrested
by the Federal Police in 2003,
accused of participating
in a scheme that included
the sale of court sentences.
He was in trouble
with a well-known operation,
"Operation Anaconda."
The investigation points to 59 people
involved in extortion, document forgery,
the sale of court sentences,
and influence peddling.
He ran a scheme that facilitated
the sale of legal services.
This money had to be hidden in some way.
That was the first time we heard
that a woman was involved
in this money laundering scheme
through a small travel agency
operating as a currency exchange office.
That was the first time
I had heard of Nelma Kodama.
Jlio had done business
with a dealer's brother
who wasn't very well organized.
It was a scam.
It was a mess,
and it prompted a meeting
between black-market dollar dealers,
but Jlio didn't attend it.
They were the dollar dealers.
They were the monarchy.
It was a very closed group.
They set the rules
of who could operate in that market.
In a male-dominated environment,
you need to make your mark.
There was a large table with the dealers,
and they were all sitting down.
Everybody stopped when I arrived.
They looked at me.
"I'm here representing Jlio Csar."
"I'm authorized to make all deals
with whoever wants
to do business with me."
Those who didn't know me, got to know me.
And what my role would be going forward.
She wanted to grow at that point.
She wanted to show the old dealers,
who thought she was too young,
that she was going to be big.
The older traders didn't talk to Nelma.
They never would.
They were very tight-knit and restricted.
Luccas worked with me for 12 years.
I invite Mr. Luccas Pace Jnior
to take a seat at the table.
I've worked at several banks,
always in the international departments.
I've worked with setting up
and closing banks.
I've worked in extrajudicial liquidations.
I have vast knowledge in this area.
I worked in the financial market
and in banks.
I used to own a brokerage house
and had a serious problem
from 2000 to 2001.
A corporate problem.
I lost my businesses and my companies.
I started working in the informal market.
It was all I had left.
I had a friend in the market that said,
"I'm working for Nelma."
I'd heard of her.
She contacted me.
I started going to Santo Andr.
It started with one day,
then two, three. Then I realized
it was every day.
At one point, Jlio became very fearful
of Rocha Mattos's situation.
According to the Attorney General,
Rocha Mattos is one of the leaders
of the organization
selling court sentences.
Jlio was...
afraid that something might happen to him,
that he'd be arrested or something.
He was shaken up
and depressed.
He didn't want to leave the apartment.
I picked up the slack,
since I was an employee.
All while holding the grenade.
The transition from employee to owner
happened when we opened
Hawaii Exchange and Travel.
It ceased being Suntur.
Another partner demanded
that the partnership be dissolved
to become Hawaii Exchange and Travel.
I became the owner
because Jlio didn't want to come back,
and I had to conduct
the orchestra by myself.
Nelma used to operate in the old market.
It was a much simpler market.
I had very few clients, but I started
closing the exchange deals
for her at the banks.
She started building
a technical structure.
She improved her capacity
to meet higher demand.
That's when things grew
and she moved to So Paulo.
I started...
from scratch.
I was nobody at the height
of the black-market dollar dealers.
In the 1970s, '80s, '90s,
it was morally acceptable
to have a dollar dealer working for you.
Everyone knew it was illegal, but Brazil...
Brazil isn't Germany, it's not a Teutonic,
Anglo-Saxon country.
Here, there are things that everyone knows
are sketchy, but they do them anyway.
Inflation leaped at rates
of two to three percent a day.
And the only solution Brazilians had
was to buy a strong foreign currency
that wouldn't devalue daily
like our currency,
whatever it was at the time.
It's challenging
to remember all the currencies.
They have had many names over the years.
That's why there were
those huge lines at currency exchanges.
Because you wanted to take your money,
which had lost a lot of value,
to buy dollars
because the value was increasing
every five minutes.
JULY 1994
From a devalued currency
to a strong currency.
The Real will enter our daily lives,
replacing the Cruzeiro Real.
With the Plano Real in 1994,
with the currency stabilization
and the normalization
of the Brazilian economy,
the use of dollars for asset protection
no longer played a central role.
Black-market dollar dealing
became much closer
to traditional criminality
and the macro corruption of major crimes.
Trade with China grew exponentially.
Not the trade we talk about nowadays,
but the informal trade.
It was right when I started
operating heavily
at Rua 25 de Maro, in Pag plaza.
So Paulo's main commercial center,
Rua 25 de Maro.
Police officers and fiscal authorities
seal off Pag plaza,
which is considered a symbol
of contraband in Brazil.
People would get in touch with me,
close a deal,
and collect $100,000 or $200,000.
It was hard to believe.
One or two hundred thousand.
I created an operation
where I'd sell them the dollars
for them to take those dollars,
charter a bus and go to Paraguay
to buy the merchandise
and pay cash in dollars at the stores
before returning to So Paulo
with the merchandise.
The buses started getting robbed.
So I thought to myself,
"Let's look at the main stores
in Paraguay."
They'd buy goods from China or the US
and pay via illicit wire transfer.
So they didn't need the money in cash.
A wire transfer?
You think of a wire, but there is no wire.
There's a local dollar dealer
in contact with someone there.
Let's say they're in the US.
They'd send a wire.
We used to say "wire"
because it was a telex or a telegram.
They would say,
"A guy needs $200,000 in New York."
The person goes to New York,
and a courier would arrive
and hand $200,000 to that person.
How did the person over there get paid?
There were so many transactions
that someone in Brazil would need
the equivalent of $200,000
in the local currency, whatever it was.
So, the dollar dealer in Brazil
would give it to the person in Brazil,
and it would all be even.
The money never left Brazil
or went to the US.
And the transaction was done
via an illicit wire transfer.
I had a lot of credit.
So I'd say to one store,
"Leave $10,000 available for so-and-so,
social security XYZ.
He's coming to collect it."
So I'd charge a percentage from the store,
and I'd charge a percentage
from the recipient too.
I'd make money twice.
Nothing wrong with that.
I mean, there was.
Because it was illegal.
I remember crossing the Ponte da Amizade
between Brazil and Paraguay
many times as a cash smuggler.
Then I'd organize a dozen kids in a line.
I'd tell them, "Each of you will cross
with $10,000." How crazy am I?
And I'd just watch and say,
"If you steal from me, I'll kill you
and throw you off the bridge."
I'd make them walk in single file,
and I walked behind them.
Why? If one got caught,
I'd lose 10,000, not 100,000.
So, I had a set group of boys
on weekends to collect
the money in Paraguay.
Then I started getting robbed.
It was no joke going to places
like Pag plaza on Rua 25 de Maro
to collect all that money
because it was pretty crowded.
There were bags and bags of money.
She had a team that collected
money from the stalls.
That's how she operated.
With that, we needed bunkers
to store the money...
so that I could run my operation
and send the money abroad.
And contrary to what the authorities
thought at the time,
that I was running a small,
makeshift operation,
millions upon millions
were being circulated.
It was utterly insane.
Each client had an account
on Nelma's books.
Like a modern-day digital bank.
So, the customer had
a balance and would say,
"Use my balance. Pay it in China."
"Convert my balance to dollars in cash."
I had to have a lot of cell phones.
My employees didn't understand
why I had so many cell phones.
I would say that cell phones
are cheaper than lawyers
and better than jail.
That's when I started growing too big.
So, I thought I needed a code name.
"Duda." Why?
"Duda" could be Eduarda or Eduardo.
Many people called her "auntie,"
but she didn't like it very much.
She liked using the names of movie stars.
Cameron Diaz,
Brigitte Bardot, Angelina Jolie,
Julia Roberts.
I worked on the fringes.
I had to protect myself and you.
Because I took care of your money
as well as my money.
The legal banking system
is also based on trust.
It's a depositary,
a custodian of deposits
that don't actually exist.
So just like the legal banking system,
the illegal system
is also largely based on trust.
But we can't be romantic
thinking that there isn't any cheating
within crime, just like mafia feuds.
So, it is largely based on trust.
But there is certainly
a lot of cheating within crime.
I was a bank.
They would call me and say,
"Duda, you come get."
"Come get money mine."
"Come get $100,000 for store."
Two hours later,
we'd be taking money from the register.
Their credit would be in a store,
so that they could pick up
their merchandise.
There was a powerful dollar dealer
in the region.
A Chinese woman, Mrs. Yan.
Mrs. Yan was the dollar dealer
for the Chinese.
We were competitors.
So Mrs. Yan didn't like us.
Mrs. Yan got into a personal fight
with a Chinese man.
Then this Chinese man
had the Federal Police raid her office.
Mrs. Yan called Suntur.
And I answered the phone.
That whole thing frightened me.
So I got in my car
and rushed over
to her currency exchange to rescue her.
I put her in the car and we fled.
I don't know if she's still alive.
I just know that we became
great friends and allies.
What's her name?
I don't know her.
I've never heard that story.
I really can't think who that is.
I think she existed
because I've heard stories about Mrs. Yan.
I don't know if she's alive,
what she does,
where she's from or where she went.
Mrs. Yan was one of the women
who inspired me.
Nelma is exaggerating.
She likes being grandiose.
Nelma's story sounded so confusing to me
because she talked about Beto,
the other guy, and I didn't understand it.
Nor did I want to.
I needed to work.
Since I didn't really know her story
and I saw inconsistencies,
I understood that she mixed
business with pleasure.
I was never much for dating.
And when I fell in love,
I fell hard.
What was Nelma's type in men?
She had no type.
As long as he was interesting,
that was enough.
Alberto Youssef was a great love of hers
and an overwhelming passion.
Alberto Youssef is
a notorious money launderer.
Whenever you mention money laundering,
he is always involved.
Because he's an expert.
How did I meet Beto?
It was in February 2000.
I had done a currency deal with someone.
But they were late on payments.
I started pressuring them and they said
they had bought from Beto.
I said, "But who is Beto?"
I heard that Beto lived in Londrina.
He transported valuables.
I started doing business with him.
He kept calling me.
One day, he said,
"I'm coming to meet you."
I thought, "You know what?
Let's meet this guy."
And there he was, shorter than me.
Beautiful eyes,
but extremely poorly dressed.
He was wearing a rumpled shirt.
The sides of his shoes were all worn out.
And he had an old 007 briefcase.
"If he's married, it's a bad marriage.
His wife doesn't take care of him."
But as soon as I looked at him,
I thought, "Holy shit..."
"I'm done for."
"This is... It's over."
To operate a scheme
that may have laundered
about ten billion reais,
dollar dealer Alberto Youssef,
held in custody in Curitiba,
set up a vast network of contacts
in and out of the government.
What did I see in him?
I saw everything and nothing.
Or vice versa.
Alberto Youssef is a symbolic figure
of how the world of dollar dealers works.
He did everything he could to survive,
and he's good with numbers and money.
He was born and raised
in the Triple Frontier,
near Foz do Iguau and Londrina,
where financial crime is a reality.
As well as smuggling,
you have a series of people
around the border
carrying out illegal activities.
And I believe
he became familiar with the logic
of how the financial system works
when he was a kid.
For almost four years, Paran State Bank,
a state-owned company,
was harboring what may have been
the largest dirty money laundry
in Brazil's history.
Alberto Youssef was already carrying out
money laundering schemes
through CC5 accounts.
It was known as the Banestado Case.
The dollar dealers assigned frontmen
at the Triple Frontier,
especially Paraguayans,
and opened CC5 accounts in their names
at Banestado branches in Foz do Iguau.
They were foreign accounts,
so you could send money through them.
That's when Brazil was opening up
and you could carry out
legal transactions in foreign currencies.
This case prompted
a Parliamentary Inquiry Committee.
The inquiry was buried.
At the time, Alberto Youssef
had many friends in Braslia.
He started creating
a large network of influence,
and in the 1990s,
a politician from Paran, Jos Janene,
started gaining prominence
as a federal congressman.
He has now passed away.
He started making deals
that later were considered illegal.
Alberto Youssef was Janene's operator.
He was Janene's courier.
Paran's federal court sentenced
former federal congressman
Pedro Corra to twenty years
and seven months in prison
for corruption and money laundering.
Judge Srgio Moro gave the ruling.
APRIL 2015
According to reports,
the former congressman received bribes
on behalf of the Partido Progressista
for the Petrobras corruption scheme.
Before Petrobras,
there were other institutions
used by Janene
to arrange party contributions
from businessmen through Youssef.
He carried out the operations.
He'd receive dollars, send dollars abroad,
exchange the dollars into cash,
and deliver the money to Braslia.
And we'd distribute it
among public officials.
Alberto Youssef was involved once again.
And he knew a dollar dealer.
And he turned to her when he needed cash,
especially in US dollars.
When he had trouble
delivering the money, he'd say,
"I'll sacrifice myself
and visit the Japanese lady."
"I'll have a quickie and bring the money."
That's what he'd say.
I had no idea who she was
or what she looked like.
But he'd say that she was a beast
at solving money problems.
She was Satan in a skirt.
This is the type of game I like to play.
I didn't have any other operation.
I had an underground operation.
Because cash leaves no trace.
We lived together for nine years.
They were good times.
I was madly in love with him.
He was arrested three times
during that period.
His last agreement meant
that he could no longer operate.
He couldn't work with currency exchange.
So we agreed
that I'd do the deals instead.
I can't comment on her trading
on his behalf when he wasn't able to
because I was just getting to know her
and her structure.
I really didn't have access to...
But did you meet Mr. Alberto Youssef?
I did.
- Dario Messer?
- No.
- Raul Srour?
- Raul, yes. I did.
Raul was my Jewish friend.
He had impeccable taste
and smelled divine.
He was classy and elegant,
but he had no money.
He was partners with other dealers.
One of the last few old dollar dealers.
I have no idea
how she met Raul, but she did.
And she, apparently,
started doing business with him,
and it became a relationship.
She did mention
having heated arguments with Alberto,
but typical lovers' quarrels.
She was Youssef's lover.
They'd fight. He didn't want
to leave his wife for her, and all that.
Sometimes, he'd come over.
She threw his clothes out
of the top-floor window.
We actually really only had one fight.
Only one.
He was away a lot.
He had to go to Braslia, for example.
He would stay there, then travel,
and I'd say, "Where are you going?"
"What's going on?" I thought
he was cheating, but he wasn't.
Now, I know that he'd arrive late because
he was meeting with contractors.
So he was making money
behind my back and sleeping with me.
I said, "One of these days,
you'll come home and there'll be a man
in our bed."
"There'll be a man in our bed."
And that's what happened.
It was Valentine's Day.
I bought two first-class tickets.
From So Paulo to Paris.
The Ritz Hotel.
The Presidential Suite.
He was bewildered when he heard
that I was going to Paris.
"I'm the one not spending
Valentine's Day with you."
"I won't."
I invited my Jewish friend
to come with me.
It was a sensational trip.
It was really after meeting Raul
that she started
to get to know the world better.
That's when I went into Chanel,
and they closed the store for me.
And I started shopping.
He started teaching me.
with your money,
you can buy this and that."
All tasteful.
Because up to that point,
I had only made a lot of money.
This is the view from our beautiful room.
How's that?
And Beto would call.
Beto would call the hotel, and Beto...
That whole drama.
How's that for you?
Do you like it?
We even have a little birdie.
When we got back to So Paulo,
I called Beto.
I imagined many things, except him saying,
"We're done."
MARCH 2014
Dealers, businessmen, politicians,
and one of the country's
largest companies, Petrobras...
A blend that led to the complex bribery
and money laundering scheme
uncovered by Operation Car Wash.
Nelma knew all about the scheme
that Youssef ran with the businessmen
because she participated in many trades.
The dollar dealer was arrested in 2014,
while trying to board
a flight to Milan with 200,000 euros
hidden in her underwear.
I wasn't running.
I was going to a furniture fair.
"You are under arrest."
"We received an anonymous tip
that you are carrying drugs."
I said, "Drugs?"
"No!" I had 200,000 euros.
That was the only illegal thing.
I didn't declare it to the tax office
because it was closed.
That's not my problem.
I had a code...
with someone.
If I called and said,
"I'm going to Disney,"
they were supposed
to get rid of everything.
Burn everything.
So I called them and said,
"I'm going to Disney."
I mean...
Operation Car Wash is considered
the country's largest corruption
and money laundering investigation.
The discovery that a currency exchange
office at this gas station,
in the heart of Braslia,
in plain sight, was moving dirty money
led to the name "Car Wash."
The same officer
that arrested me called me.
I thought he was bringing
my release order.
Boy, was I wrong.
It was an arrest warrant
by the then judge Srgio Moro,
who was triggering Operation Car Wash.
Judge Srgio Moro convicted 140 people,
including former president Lula
and prominent businessmen.
Those who committed
acts of corruption, powerful people...
...are answering to the courts of justice.
No one knew what was happening.
I went to a room
where there were at least 17 men,
all with their heads down
pretending not to know each other.
I thought, "My God, what's going on?"
Luccas was there.
They transferred us.
We were taken to a room.
That's when I saw
a very scared Raul in a straitjacket.
I believe he must have resisted arrest.
Criminal organizations led
by dollar dealers were targeted first.
Among those dollar dealers
was Alberto Youssef.
I think they arrested Nelma
to confirm Youssef's story
when he was arrested.
She'd had a connection to him
since the Banestado Case,
so they knew she was close to him.
"We want to know everything
about Alberto Youssef."
"If you tell us,
you'll be out of here in a week, tops."
"Otherwise, you can be sure
you'll rot in jail."
"So I'll rot."
In politics, you're like a card player.
A card player is never out of money.
They might be broke,
but they'll always find money to play.
Politicians are the same.
I never denied that I had help
from businesspeople.
You need to raise money for elections
because it's expensive.
You need other people's money.
Because the party fund
won't get anyone elected.
The person in office
for five, six, seven terms spends big.
That's what the funding is for,
otherwise, you don't get votes.
Politicians won't come straight out
to a businessman and say,
"I want millions of reais
in exchange for such a favor."
They choose financial operators.
They're professionals.
There used to be illicit wire transfers.
Now, we talk a lot about Bitcoin.
There are ways to make the money
you receive here go further abroad.
Behind any political scheme,
there is a financial scheme,
like the dollar dealers.
So Youssef partnered up with Dario Messer,
and he became a dollar dealer,
a Messer underling,
who is the biggest dollar dealer
in Brazilian history.
He had so much money
and ran so many schemes
that he could subcontract people.
Alberto Youssef starts climbing the ranks
in his role as a financial operator,
and gradually,
he starts working on his own
and becomes a businessman
with his own businesses.
We did reconnect.
In 2013, he came to me and said,
"We're going to work on an operation
that will last a year."
"And after that, it's over.
No more currency deals."
"We'll make money and won't need anymore."
It was to get several congressmen elected
and who knows what else.
I said, "Okay."
The task force is investigating
embezzlement at Petrobras...
They charged bribes from construction
firms working with Petrobras.
I wasn't part of Operation Car Wash
because I never operated for Petrobras.
I was a dollar dealer.
But I had done
absolutely nothing with Petrobras.
In fact, I didn't even know
why I was there.
There was that too.
She managed to run into two lovers
locked up in jail.
Alberto Youssef and Raul Srour.
They put me in a cell by myself.
There were three cells side by side
with mattresses that smelled of urine.
I believe there were 20 men
in the other two cells.
Mr. Paulo Roberto Costa arrived
on the third or fourth day,
a gentleman from Petrobras.
Beto was already there.
That's the hardest moment,
when you ask yourself,
"What am I doing here?
What does the future hold?"
You'd see that bunch of guys,
all those grown men crying,
"I want to leave."
Atheists suddenly became Evangelical,
Christian or macumba practitioners.
It was all new and scary.
It was hard for everyone. Really hard.
Especially for Raul.
His son was also arrested.
We didn't know how big
Operation Car Wash was.
We had no idea. It was the first day.
It wasn't in the news.
We were the news.
Almost everyone believed
it would be resolved within days.
Youssef also believed
it would be resolved quickly.
Raul did too. Like any other operation
before Operation Car Wash.
Nelma's mood would change quickly,
and sometimes,
the same subject that made her laugh
would upset her minutes later.
I was the first woman arrested
in Operation Car Wash.
It's hard to accept that you're in prison,
but you've got to accept it.
Why? Because you're in denial.
For example, I'd say, "I don't want a fan
because I'm getting out."
No, you're not getting out.
So, what do you do?
You have to make your cell comfortable.
She'd clean her cell
about five times a day.
She's kind of crazy.
But we got along well
because I got a ton of attention.
She'd cook for me. She fussed over me.
And then she started taking care of me.
Pedro is quite the character.
Alberto Youssef wouldn't talk to her,
but she'd talk to him.
He wouldn't say,
"Good morning." He wouldn't.
Beto would say,
"You... I don't want her in here!"
Pedro would say,
"She can stay on my side!"
Alberto Youssef had never read
a book in his life.
So I gave him his first book
to occupy him and get some sleep.
We'd play cards, dominoes and chess.
But at some point,
playing poker or anything else
would get too serious.
So we'd think up something new,
like playing Categories.
Alberto Youssef didn't know it,
but it was a serious game
that was even worth your Sunday bun.
Sunday's bread wasn't from the same place
as the rest of the week.
It was a highly contested game
when bread was involved.
I once won two buns in a single weekend.
I always thought Luccas was very smart.
But... There is always a "but."
Operation Car Wash brought us both down.
He was detained with me,
and I was very disappointed with him
because when I was arrested,
they asked him,
"Are you going to talk about Nelma
and her assets?"
"If you don't, you'll go to prison."
He didn't last five minutes.
He told them everything.
Federal Judge Srgio Moro approved
the first leniency agreement
of Operation Car Wash.
The agreement, signed
at the 13th Federal Court of Curitiba,
is regarding defendant Luccas Pace Jnior.
He was accused of financial crimes,
money laundering,
and criminal association as a subordinate
of alleged dollar dealer
Nelma Mitsue Penasso Kodama.
Luckily, I spent five months
in the Federal Police holding cells.
Some went to penitentiaries.
Since I had performed services
for the detention facility,
we were able to get them to separate
the cells for Operation Car Wash
from the ones for other crimes.
There was a difference
because they were all
white-collar crime prisoners.
New arrests by Operation Car Wash
investigating corruption at Petrobras.
One is Marcelo Odebrecht,
president of Odebrecht,
the country's biggest contractor.
Marcelo arrived.
There was only one bed in my cell.
The others had bunk beds.
I had one bed. Marcelo slept on the floor.
Marcelo was also obsessed with tidiness.
He'd organize the fridge,
and I'd mess it up
and say, "Marcelo, the fridge is messy."
He'd take off like crazy
to organize the fridge.
Then I'd mess it up again.
All of a sudden,
a top-level Odebrecht secretary arrived.
Maria Lcia was incarcerated with us.
She arrived there in total shock
and extremely fragile.
They needed her testimony
to force Marcelo Odebrecht
to start making his statement.
She asked me about it.
And I'd say to her,
"You need to weigh up the alternatives."
"Your freedom or your conviction."
"I've been here for a long time."
"You can be sure
that if you give them what they want,
you'll probably be released."
"But now, you need to settle it
with your conscience."
We tried telling her, "Don't do this."
"You've been with the firm for 30 years.
Your boss is next door."
Nelma said, "You'll get screwed."
"I'm in here. I know what it's like."
"If you don't snitch,
it'll be the end for you."
Maria Lcia Tavares was the first
Odebrecht employee to collaborate...
She revealed the existence of a dedicated
bribery department at the company.
She testified before the judge...
Nelma can quickly read people
as soon as she meets them.
She figures out what that person is like.
It was an explosive testimony.
Nelma convinced her to talk about Marcelo.
Nelma probably did that
for the negotiation
of her own leniency agreement
because anything you bring is important.
So this could count
in your favor, so to speak.
Through that arrangement,
I believe I may have helped.
I don't know if she gained
any objective benefits
in terms of her sentence,
but she started to be seen
by Operation Car Wash's team in Curitiba
as a collaborator,
as someone they could count on.
She really did help at the time.
This matters to her.
She needs to be in charge.
She needs to say,
"I can help you."
That's what I think it is.
She's like an artist.
Ladies and gentlemen, Nelma Kodama.
Nelma, thank you for coming.
Look how cool!
Look at how important I am.
The president is below me.
That's so cool!
She didn't play the victim.
Who can forget her taking
and posting pictures
wearing an ankle monitor?
It's a slap in the face.
I don't know
if she's trying to be an influencer
or wanting to show off
her fashionable monitor.
I was afraid of going out.
Then I said, "You know what?
I'll go out wearing my monitor."
"Why hide it?"
I think she sort of enjoyed
being this Hollywood character,
the outlaw. The female bandit.
On tonight's show...
Do you not consider yourself a bandit?
No, I don't consider myself a bandit.
Perhaps the exposure of her job
and even her pride
in calling herself a dollar dealer
is her personal characteristic.
I said, "I'm taking up
almost half a page on a Sunday."
Maybe she'd be like that in any job.
How does a dentist become a dollar dealer?
That's a subject for another interview.
She liked showing off.
People would recognize me
and ask to take selfies with me.
I thought that was funny.
Once again, the whole page.
But I became a celebrity because I sang
at the Parliamentary Inquiry Committee,
at a moment when I...
I didn't plan to do that at the Petrobras
Parliamentary Inquiry Committee,
where the largest corruption operation
in the world was being conducted.
And all of a sudden, a parliamentarian
wanted to know about my personal life.
I declare the 18th Parliamentary Inquiry
Committee meeting open,
with the goal of investigating
illegal practices and irregularities
within the company
between 2005 and 2015.
This meeting is a public hearing
to obtain statements from:
Nelma Kodama,
Ren Luiz Pereira, Joo Luiz Correia...
"Is that Nelma?
The Nelma who went to school with us?"
All of a sudden, we see Nelma
at the Petrobras inquiry.
I even called my wife,
who also studied with us.
She was nearby, and I said,
"Mrcia, hurry. Look who it is."
We were perplexed.
And we thought, "My God, what happened?"
I am here today under investigation,
since I've already been
convicted and sentenced
by Judge Srgio Moro.
Small towns are like that.
Everybody knows each other.
Were you Alberto Youssef's lover?
I lived maritally with Alberto Youssef
from 2000 to 2009.
I was at a Parliamentary Inquiry,
which I believed to be serious,
and a parliamentarian kept insisting,
"Were you his lover? Were you?"
"Lover" is an all-encompassing word.
The lover is the wife, the friend...
- I'm not passing judgment.
- But I'm...
- I'm answering.
- I'm just reading what was written.
And I'm explaining.
I'm explaining.
I'm just reading. Is that a problem?
- May I continue?
- Yes.
"If you want to know
if a lover is a friend, a wife,
a companion, a partner,
then I was his lover."
"There is even a Roberto Carlos song..."
And at that moment,
everyone started singing with me.
So I just went like this.
You can't take Nelma Kodama seriously.
She's the one who sang
"Amada Amante," remember?
That iconic moment of her singing
with some congressmen singing along.
There was nothing left for me to do,
and he thought
I was showing off. I wasn't showing off.
I was protecting myself from his question,
which was neither subtle nor very elegant.
And I'm an elegant woman. Spare me.
I met Nelma
at Lins Technical College in the 1980s.
We were 15, 16, 17 years old.
Oh, yes, Nelma was pretty rowdy.
The rowdy crowd sits
at the back of the classroom
and bands together to mess around.
Nelma came from a wealthy
and traditional family in Lins.
I met Nelma when we took
our admission exams for Lins College.
The freshmen get hazed.
And we'd go in costumes.
- Look at Nelma as a geisha.
- She's dressed as a geisha.
We graduated 30 years ago
from Lins School of Dentistry.
The whole gang that you already know...
In all my years at dentistry school,
I was the nerd who never went out
and didn't go to parties.
I never went anywhere.
I started going out
during my last semester.
Nelma, Ione, Gisela...
- Ione, you, Robertinha...
- Robertinha.
It's rare for Nelma Kodama
to have friends.
- Artur!
- Darling!
Many friends just lost touch.
Because they weren't
Nelma Kodama's friends.
They were friends
with Nelma Kodama's money.
My dear Artur. Do you remember
when we danced in Milan?
I do.
It was always like that.
- She'd say, "Artur!"
- I'd say, "Artur!"
"Artur, come with me to Paris."
And I'd say...
She'd say, "Artur, I'm sending you a copy
of the ticket. Come. It's tomorrow, okay?"
I'd say, "Tomorrow?"
"Yeah, tomorrow." And then...
This is my great friend.
My accomplice.
- Not accomplice.
- No. Calm down, everyone.
We don't want
to compromise you, right, Artur?
I don't mess with dollars or euros.
Milan, Istanbul...
Istanbul is awful.
Oh, Artur. Istanbul was so funny.
She's crazy, unpredictable,
and irresponsible.
Look, she's hiding! Look here!
I'm going home now.
Because it's time
to be under house arrest.
Because 10 p.m. is...
I had my college friends,
and when we were really stressed,
I'd say, "Guys, shall we go for a ride?"
"Let's do a flyby over Lins."
It was a plane owned by Nelma's family.
It just sat at the airport,
and once in a while, we'd go there.
She'd arrange it all with the pilot
without her mother knowing.
She'd organize everything with the pilot,
but she'd fly the plane too.
It's not that I knew how to fly.
The pilot would let me
take control of the plane.
All of a sudden, I realized
she was switching places with the pilot.
"Relax. I've got this."
It was a dangerous game
because I didn't have a license.
I hope the pilots forgive me.
We'd take some beer to drink.
And we'd circle above the city.
He did some loops,
but she'd just go up and down.
And what did she do? Laugh.
She cracked up at our panicked faces.
They were enjoying
doing something the "wrong" way.
Not me. I was up there,
thinking about
what I was seeing down below.
And I'd think, "Man..."
"I wasn't born to be a dentist."
"This is not going to work!"
APRIL 2022
Nelma's in the news again today.
She was arrested in Portugal
accused of something
even worse than the previous accusation:
international drug trafficking.
The investigation points to a woman
as the organization's leader.
Nelma Kodama is
on the investigators' list,
accused of laundering money
for a complex drug trafficking network.
I went from Operation Car Wash empress
to drug trafficking empress.
I was sitting on a hotel balcony
when nine or ten policemen
came in and said...
"You're under arrest."
In Portugal, Nelma is considered
to be extremely dangerous.
While Nelma was detained
at the Santa Cruz do Bispo
Detention Facility,
she was in a system
where she had no contact
with other inmates.
I had some idea about Operation Car Wash
because I was a dollar dealer.
But with this operation, I had no idea
what I was being charged for.
Investigations point
to the dollar dealer owning
a portion of the 580 kilos of cocaine
seized from the fuselage
of a Portuguese company's plane
at the airport of the Bahian capital.
She got involved
in this process, no doubt,
due to her relationship with someone else.
I had a relationship with that person.
I was being betrayed by a nobody.
By a nobody!
No one knows who they are,
but everyone knows Nelma Kodama.
He is not an intelligent man.
He is not a criminal because a criminal,
forgive me, but at least a criminal has
honor within the criminal world.
They keep their word.
I don't think she came to terms
with living an inferior lifestyle
after her Operation Car Wash arrest.
You pull it out,
then push it back.
Pull and push.
Pull and push.
And so on.
She was left with nothing.
She couldn't get back into business,
so she decided to enter the drug world,
which is a really serious crime.
It causes significant harm
to other people.
Taking dollars from the rich
to give to politicians was very different.
Being investigated
for international drug trafficking
is a lot to bear.
I am someone who is completely
and unequivocally against drugs. I am.
I am. I don't drink or smoke.
How could I sell drugs?
Nelma didn't accept extradition to Brazil
when it was first mentioned.
She didn't want to go to Brazil
without being fully informed.
Then, she understood
that it made sense to go back to Brazil
and defend herself in the case.
A dollar dealer convicted
in Operation Car Wash,
who informed on businessmen
and politicians, has been extradited.
She arrived last night in Salvador.
She was taken to the Federal Police
Regional Superintendent Office.
Nine people were investigated
in Operation Discovery.
I was the only woman.
I was the only person
detained in Salvador.
I was there for three months
because the case started there.
I went through hell.
It was the worst thing
that had ever happened to me.
"Is this hell?"
I thought, "Is this hell?"
When you think things are bad,
they can get worse.
I developed two wrinkles here.
And these two wrinkles...
I'm a dentist, so I know the muscles.
It's because I don't laugh.
So this starts to waste away.
It's wasting away.
JUNE 2023
Nelma was arrested and accused
of transnational crimes, drug trafficking
and criminal organization.
Our main focus here
is the issue of her freedom.
Do you know if they've signed it?
Could you check for me?
Hi, Thiago. Good afternoon.
It's Bruno again.
Can I call you in five?
What time does your workday end?
My God, it's just to sign
an official letter. Hopeless.
I spent six months in Portugal,
then I spent three months in Salvador,
and then four months here, in So Paulo.
Here, it was a piece of cake.
Girls, the release order has been issued.
I'm heading over there, okay?
I'll go and oversee it.
I'll keep you updated. See you later.
Counselor, he's finishing the release
procedure and once he's done,
he'll call me.
Then you can come in and wait...
No, we can do better.
We'll pull the car up right here,
so she can get in.
Do you know what freedom tastes like?
It tastes bittersweet.
COURT GRANTS NELMA HOUSE ARRESNelma's not just a client,
and it is a unique case.
I would visit Nelma
twice a week in Portugal.
And she would also call me every day,
including Saturdays,
Sundays, and holidays.
She would always listen to me,
always look at me.
She always looked me in the eye.
And we even talked
about more trivial things.
How she felt,
her concerns,
including her health
and her future aspirations.
Let me help you.
She started feeling
comfortable enough to vent,
which became more frequent
as we got closer.
And, yes, now,
with Nelma, I can... I consider...
In fact, she often calls me "sweetheart."
- You look beautiful.
- Who, me?
Some people said
I'd never get out of prison.
That wore me down.
"Counselor Manuela,
I'm never getting out."
"Of course you are."
"But what if I'm in here
for eight or even ten years?"
"But what do you think I'm doing?"
"If you were going to be here for eight
or ten years, I wouldn't be here."
Counselor Manuela,
these are my lawyers, Counselors Bruno...
- A pleasure.
- ...and Felipe.
Counselor Manuela accompanied me
for the first six months.
There is also an ongoing case
against me in Portugal.
She's overseeing everything there,
and now, we have you.
Counselor Manuela,
they are young, brilliant,
and they specialize
in criminal organizations.
This is one of the reasons
why we changed strategies.
I said, "No, I must take a stand."
"It's not possible.
If a first-class nobody can get out,
why can't I?"
We are really alike in many ways,
starting with our poor taste in men.
We laugh a lot.
A lot.
In fact, once we laughed
about precisely that.
She said, "Look, Counselor,
as soon as I get out,
I'll find you a boyfriend."
And I laughed and said,
"If I go by your exes..."
It's like they say.
Men came to steal from us,
humiliate us, and use us.
In Beto's case, for example,
I had both a personal relationship
and a business relationship with him.
Our involvement in Operation Car Wash
was due to her relationship with Youssef.
If it were just the normal market,
perhaps we wouldn't have gone down.
Just like other dealers
working with Youssef who didn't go down.
They didn't want Nelma.
And I said nothing about Youssef.
And to my surprise, I saw on television
that Beto was signing
a leniency agreement.
Alberto Youssef received
a reduced sentence in exchange
for pleading guilty
to his Petrobras crimes
and providing evidence
revealing the company's entire scheme.
"Wow, if he did that,
I hope he brings me along
and protects me."
That's not what happened.
I said, "Well, life goes on.
Let's move forward."
And that was that.
It's not about forgiving or not forgiving.
It's all good. We're even. Life moves on.
I wish everyone happiness.
To everyone. And life goes on.
Evidence of an illegal wiretap
in Alberto Youssef's cell...
After much back and forth in court,
the defendant's lawyers
secured a release order...
The task force lost steam
after conversations
between two central figures were leaked:
the then judge Srgio Moro
and the then prosecutor Deltan Dallagnol.
Srgio Moro,
Deltan Dallagnol, and their group
made decisions that violated the law.
I've always acted
in accordance with the law.
I've always acted based on the ethics
of the judicial system.
Moro supposedly had given
the prosecutors informal leads.
There were miscarriages of justice,
illegalities, unethical actions...
I never advised
the Public Prosecutor's Office
to do anything.
Prosecutors are taking advantage
of the exposure they received.
Srgio Moro is the fifth confirmed
minister of Bolsonaro's administration.
The former federal judge resigned as
Minister of Justice and Public Security...
Srgio Moro's daily schedule
continues as an electoral campaign.
Several leaks raised questions
about the former judge's impartiality
heading the largest anti-corruption
operation in Brazil's history.
Operation Car Wash had 79 phases
and 278 convictions.
The task force was dismantled
in February 2021.
You could see the twist coming
because what goes up
must come crashing down.
Vanity comes into it.
And when vanity comes into it,
you get lost in power.
Deep loneliness.
I felt a deep emptiness in her
at the end of the day
when she headed home
and everything was done for the day.
Like an artist or a comedian
who is a nobody once they get home.
They're just a normal person.
I don't know how we reconnected.
We talked and she said,
"I don't have anyone by my side.
I don't have kids. I have nothing."
"So, was it all worth it?"
"Oh, but that's okay."
"Tomorrow is a new day. I'll make it.
I'll do some business..."
She assumed that character.
I call it the "Nelma character."
I'm not a mom, so I don't know
how it feels to give birth to a child,
but I've given birth to money.
Even without being central
to the schemes, she caused a stir.
A dollar dealer
that climbed the criminal ranks,
working the men.
Dirty money is dirty.
But when it comes packaged
from the bank, it smells really nice.
But it's not the smell
of purchasing power.
It's the smell of the money's birthplace.
That beautiful operation
of being a dollar dealer...
The credibility
of making a call and saying,
"Transfer me a million."
Boom, it was in your account.
"I'll pay you tomorrow." "Okay."
That's all over.
I believe the new digital payment methods
with tokens, NFTs, Bitcoin, and others,
make the traditional enabler role
of the dollar dealer obsolete.
Cash and credit are dying.
Cryptocurrency provides
a similar level of anonymity to cash.
I think I'd be a hacker.
The person who figures out
how to make the money untraceable.
Her life is clearly dedicated
to criminal activity.
My friend...
The idea of Nelma being a criminal
is inconceivable to me.
I felt like a taxi driver.
I don't know the money's origin,
or if that person paid me
with drug money or from selling a car.
I don't know where it's from.
If Nelma says she's a taxi driver
without knowing what's going on,
I'd say the best analogy
is that she's driving the getaway car.
Someone is going to kidnap a person
and she's the getaway driver.
It's a complex aspect of financial crime
and this type of criminal organization.
Because you can always seem cleaner
than you really are.
It's called "white-collar crime"
for a reason.
Nelma can think
that her understanding of a crime
is different from mine or other people's,
but it's all the same.
It's a serious mistake to say
that financial crimes and corruption
are minor transgressions
and not blood crimes.
Ninety-eight percent
of Brazil's deforestation is illegal.
This deforestation can only happen
land grabbing, but also through
the flow of illicit payments,
laundered by dollar dealers.
The country's engine is corruption.
Before the money got to me,
it went through the large institutions.
It went from the businessman's
or the politician's account into mine.
Operation Car Wash uncovered
a corruption scheme never seen in Brazil.
But what I believe took place
was a case of omnipotence,
thinking that since they were
fighting crime, they could do anything.
We often saw that missionary instinct,
but when the system decides to react,
that's when it gets you.
When the operation reached the Judiciary,
it began to be dismantled,
but it never came close
to the financial system.
It is estimated
that money laundering accounts
for 5% to 8% of the world's GDP.
There'd never be a large corruption scheme
without the collusion
of the Brazilian
and international financial systems.
What was illegal?
I wasn't breaking the law.
They're never guilty.
The government's financial body, COAF,
should oversee this, not me.
It's pure cynicism
facilitated by society's tolerance
of white-collar crime
and the white skin and light-colored eyes
that walk the halls of power in Braslia
and the world of luxury.
Holding a major Swiss bank accountable,
or a big New York law firm,
or governments of European countries
that looked the other way
and ensured that their countries
benefited from money
from global corruption,
from money laundering,
that's the ultimate challenge.
It is all outside the law.
If I'm outside the law, everything is.
The question is,
does the political system,
do the regulators
and the established power
truly want to be ahead of crime,
or is it convenient to lag behind?
I'd like to thank you,
because you are my team.
- It'll be okay.
- Of course it will because I'm innocent.
With the annulment
of Operation Car Wash's ruling,
you are innocent.
And do you know why
I'm innocent of this crime?
I'd never work an operation like that.
And if I did, it would've been successful
because I'm not stupid.
I'm going to tell you a secret.
I'm allergic to money.
I have an allergy and it makes me itch
like you wouldn't believe.
You have no idea.
I'm sorry.
I'm allergic to money.
Subtitle translation by:
rico Sanvicente, Elaine Scott