SAO PAULO – Brazilian civil engineering and construction giant Odebrecht, a company that admitted two and a half years ago to massive bid-rigging schemes in many different countries, announced Thursday that is has changed its corporate name to OEC and adopted a new visual identity.
“Odebrecht Engineering & Construction is announcing the renewal of its brand, adopting the initials ‘OEC,’” the Salvador, Brazil-based company said in a statement.
The change is part of a restructuring and transformation process begun after the company and its petrochemical unit Braskem pleaded guilty in December 2016 to paying hundreds of millions of dollars in bribes to government officials to win business in Latin America and elsewhere.
Odebrecht specifically admitted to paying around $788 million as part of a bribery and bid-rigging scheme that began as far back as 2001.
As part of that settlement with authorities in the United States, Brazil and Switzerland, those companies also agreed to pay a combined total penalty of at least $3.5 billion.
The company’s revamped visual identity, which was developed with the support of consulting firm Keenwork and will be used starting this month in all company communication, includes a new green, blue and gray logo with the initials OEC and the English words Odebrecht Engineering & Construction.
In 2018, the Odebrecht Group, which encompasses OEC, Braskem and five other businesses, carried out a similar move when it changed the name of its oil and gas producing subsidiary from Odebrecht Oil & Gas to Ocyan.
In the statement, the construction titan highlighted some of the changes it has made in recent years to improve its governance, including “the implementation of a new compliance system,” the “incorporation of independent advisors” and a “succession process that promoted a new generation of leaders.”
“It was an intense journey that enabled us to start a process to rebuild confidence and the results are now emerging, also in the form of winning important new projects since last year,” OEC CEO Fabio Januario said.
In Brazil, Odebrecht was among more than a dozen construction companies that formed a cartel to secure inflated contracts from state oil company Petrobras through bribery and rigged bid processes.
The Lava Jato (Car Wash) investigation into that massive corruption scheme led to prison terms for numerous top company executives, including former Odebrecht chairman and CEO Marcelo Odebrecht, and even ensnared former Brazilian President Luiz Inacio da Silva, who was sentenced to a lengthy prison term (recently reduced to eight years and 10 months).
Lula, who vehemently denies wrongdoing, was the front-runner in last October’s presidential race until being barred from competing after being found guilty of accepting bribes from construction company OAS.
The case was based largely on plea-bargained testimony from people already convicted of corruption offenses.
Authorities in many other countries in Latin America and Africa also are investigating allegations that politicians accepted bribes from Odebrecht.