World

Your Favorite Flip-Flops Are Part Of Brazil’s Ridiculous Political Mess

The company that makes Havaianas was sold for more than $1 billion after its owners were indicted earlier this year on corruption charges.

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The maker of Hollywood’s favorite flip-flops has gotten tangled up in Brazil’s long-running corruption scandal.

Afp / AFP / Getty Images

Alpargatas, the company that makes Havaianas, was sold last week for $1.1 billion by parent company J&F Investments, according to Reuters, citing a securities filing. The sale comes after J&F Investments’ owners, Joesley and Wesley Batista, were indicted earlier this year for corruption; the two have testified about bribing 1,829 politicians in order to receive advantageous loans and other favors.

The flip-flop company, which has been around since 1962 and whose footwear is a staple in Brazil, became famous in the United States as a favorite of celebrities including Jennifer Lopez and Megan Fox.

Erik De Castro / Reuters

Roughly 200 million pairs of the brightly colored sandals are sold every year around the world.

The move to sell Alpargatas comes after Brazil's President Michel Temer ordered a halt to further financing of J&F Investments.

Evaristo Sa / AFP / Getty Images

State-run lender Caixa Economica Federal had previously financed the loan used to purchase Alpargatas. Batista, one of J&F’s owners, has in turn accused President Temer of accepting bribes himself. Neither Alpargatas nor J&F responded to BuzzFeed News' request for comment on the sale.

Weirdly enough, this isn’t the first time the fashionable sandals have found themselves part of the three-year-old investigation into a money laundering scheme known as Operation Car Wash.

Nacho Doce / Reuters

J&F Investments bought the flip-flop maker in 2015 from Camargo Correa SA, a construction conglomerate that was also caught up in Operation Car Wash. At the time J&F Investments noted that Camargo Correa was selling in order focus on its core operations in construction and infrastructure, and called the purchase “one of the most important transactions of the fashion, apparel, and footwear sector in Brazil.”

The Operation Car Wash investigation has uncovered bribes and corruption in the highest levels of Brazil’s governing and corporate elite.

Ueslei Marcelino / Reuters

Last week, former president Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva was sentenced to nine years in prison for his role in the plot.

CORRECTION

Brazil's former president is named Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva. An earlier version of this story misnamed him.

Otillia Steadman is a world assistant for BuzzFeed News and is based in New York.

Contact Otillia Steadman at otillia.steadman@buzzfeed.com.

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