Footing a graft bill
ZEENAT MOORAD: The humble flip-flop gets caught in corruption scandal
It would appear that even the humble flip-flop is not impervious to the knavish rapture that has set into (almost) every sector of Brazil’s economy
Corruption is the most nimble of epidemics — its reach extends to the most unlikely of places. Flip-flop maker Havaianas was sold for £850m to three Brazilian banking groups last week so its owner — one of Brazil’s most-powerful families — could put the cash towards paying off a graft and bribery fine. Not long ago, dear reader, I told you that Brazil’s Petrobras scandal was just the beginning and that the country was lost in a morass of corruption. Now it would appear that even the humble flip-flop is not impervious to the knavish rapture that has set into (almost) every sector of its economy.Havaianas is arguably the world’s most conspicuous footwear brand and Brazil’s most famous export — after Gisele Bündchen, of course. About 300m pairs are sold a year. As flip-flops go, they’re basically at the top of the hierarchy. Rivals include Ipanema, Crocs, Rip Curl and Quiksilver — none of which have been able to emulate the expansion (over 120 countries) and cult following of the brand...