18 April 2017
A U.S. judge on Monday sentenced Brazilian construction giant Odebrecht SA to pay $2.6 billion in fines on a plea deal between the company and U.S., Brazilian and Swiss authorities. Of this amount $93 million will go to the United States, $2.39 billion to Brazil and $116 million to Switzerland. The company is accused of paying about $788 million in bribes to officials in Argentina, Chile, Colombia, Ecuador, Mexico, Peru, the Dominican Republic, Venezuela, Panama and Portugal to secure lucrative contracts. Some of those bribes were paid through U.S. banks.
The case was a result of operation car wash investigations going on for the past 3 years in Brazil at the state-run oil company Petrobras, which has led to dozens of arrests and political turmoil in Brazil. Brazilian President Michel Temer said on Monday he expects some of his ministers who were accused of wrongdoing by Odebrecht and Petrobras executives in their plea bargain testimonies, to resign.
In his written testimony, he said that he was not personally involved in the management of more than 300 companies in 15 different sectors across more than 20 nations. The company has built Brazilian World Cup stadiums, Cuba’s deep water port, Miami’s airport and is Angola’s biggest private employer. Former head of the company, Marcelo Odebrecht, is now serving a prison sentence of 19 years and four months in Brazil.
Odebrecht came under the spot light because of its size. It is believed that more than a dozen construction companies in Brazil that operate in this manner.