I usually use this blog to plug my own stories but I am making an exception today for this brilliant piece of reporting about how rich Brazilians are destroying the environment to build themselves palatial homes.

Some of the most powerful and influential people in Brazil, film maker Bruno Barreto and the Marinho family that run the Globo media empire among them, have consistently flouted the law by cutting down forests, diverting streams, and disturbing rare habitats.

All so they can have nice houses.

The Bloomberg story says:

“All Brazilian beaches are public by law. Wealthy Brazilians do whatever they want on land that often doesn’t belong to them, says Eduardo Godoy of the Paraty office of the Chico Mendes Institute for Biodiversity Conservation, which manages federally protected areas.

“They think they are the only ones who deserve to enjoy a piece of paradise because they are rich,” Godoy says. “They say they are the owners of the island or the beach, and everybody believes them. But that’s not what the law says.”

When prosecutors and environmental police go after them (and usually win), the millionaires appeal the decisions in court, knowing that such actions can take years to be resolved. They ignore the original rulings and stay put while their lawyers buy them time to enjoy their ill-gotten gains.

Read the whole story here. It’s worth it.