Buenos Aires Times

latin america LAVA JATO CORRUPTION

Odebrecht agrees to pay Brazil government US$700m over bribes

The deal gives Odebrecht 22 years to complete the 2.7 billion reis (US$700-million) payment as punishment for having bribed some 150 public officials in order to win massive construction contracts.

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Odebrecht was once a shining example of all-conquering Brazilian industry, taking on huge projects.
Odebrecht was once a shining example of all-conquering Brazilian industry, taking on huge projects. Foto:FILE

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Corruption scandal-tainted construction giant Odebrecht has agreed to pay a multi-million dollar settlement to the Brazilian government for bribing public officials.

The deal gives Odebrecht 22 years to complete the 2.7 billion reis (US$700-million) payment as punishment for having bribed some 150 public officials in order to win massive construction contracts.

This payment is part of a wider US$2.6-billion package Odebrecht has committed to shell out to the United States, Switzerland and Brazil.

Announcing the settlement in Brasilia on Monday, Brazil's Attorney General Grace Mendonca said Odebrecht had begun paying reparations this week.

Odebrecht was once a shining example of all-conquering Brazilian industry, taking on huge projects like the Simon Bolívar airport in Caracas and the Grand Parkway motorway in Texas.

They were also behind the renovation of Rio de Janeiro's iconic Maracanã football stadium, where the 2014 World Cup final was held, as well as both the opening and closing ceremonies at the Olympic Games two years later.

But the true reasons behind this majestic success started to become apparent from June 2015 when executive director Marcelo Odebrecht was arrested as part of the "Operation Car Wash" ('Lava Jato') investigation, which shed light on a vast network of illicit payments made to gain public works contracts.

Dozens of politicians have been caught up in the corruption scandal, which also involves state oil giant Petrobras, including President Michel Temer and ex-president Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva – who is currently serving a 12-year jail sentence for accepting a luxury seaside apartment as a bribe.

Temer, who steps down as president in October, was implicated by Marcelo Odebrecht, who struck a plea bargain by agreeing to testify against others in exchange for a reduced jail sentence.

Leading politicians from around the region have also been implicated, with Pedro Pablo Kuczynski stepping down as Peru president a day before an impeachment vote he looked certain to lose, accused of receiving a US$5-million bribe.

In Ecuador, ex-Vice President Jorge Glas was sentenced to six years in prison for receiving US$13.5 million in kickbacks.

- AFP

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