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  HOME | Brazil (Click here for more)

Brazil’s Odebrecht, Braskem to Pay $2 Billion to Settle Corruption Cases

RIO DE JANEIRO – Brazilian construction giant Odebrecht and petrochemical company Braskem announced Wednesday that they had agreed to pay a total of 6.96 billion reais ($2.05 billion) to settle corruption cases in Brazil, the United States and Switzerland.

Odebrecht said in a statement that the settlement was reached with the Brazilian Federal Prosecution Office, the U.S. Justice Department and the Swiss Attorney General’s Office.

Odebrecht said it would pay 3.8 billion reais in fines to authorities in those three countries, while Braskem – controlled by Odebrecht and Brazilian state oil giant Petrobras – said it would pay roughly 3.1 billion reais in penalties and damages.

Both Salvador-based Odebrecht and Sao Paulo-based Braskem will pay the lion’s share of the total – 3 billion reais and 2.3 billion reais, respectively – to Brazilian authorities.

The two companies also pledged to reveal the illicit actions they committed in Brazil and abroad and accepted responsibility for violating anti-corruption laws in those three countries.

Odebrecht on Dec. 1 announced that it had reached a leniency agreement for a slightly smaller sum, but a company spokesman told EFE that the total amount of the fine had been updated after negotiations among the three countries.

Brazilian newspaper Folha de S.Paulo reported on Dec. 2 that under the terms of the leniency agreement Odebrecht, which had been barred from bidding on governments contracts since 2014, would once again be able to do business with the public sector.

Odebrecht is among a group of companies accused by Brazilian prosecutors of forming a cartel to overcharge Petrobras for contracts. Much of the extra money went to corrupt Petrobras officials who approved the deals, while some of the loot was set aside to pay off politicians who provided cover for the graft.

The bribes-for-inflated contracts scandal forced Petrobras to write off some 6.2 billion reais (around $1.9 billion at the current exchange rate) in graft-related losses from the period between 2004 and 2014.

Top executives at some of Brazil’s leading construction and engineering companies, including former Odebrecht CEO Marcelo Odebrecht, have been sentenced to long prison terms over the scheme.

Dozens of politicians – including former President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, who has been indicted in four cases stemming from the Petrobras investigation – also have been embroiled in the scandal.

Marcelo Odebrecht, sentenced to more than 19 years in prison for corruption and money laundering, is one of dozens of officials at the construction giant who have agreed to sign plea-bargain agreements.

 

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