SANTO DOMINGO – A Dominican environmental group on Thursday urged the government to cancel a thermoelectric plant contract it signed with Brazilian construction giant Odebrecht, which recently acknowledged paying hundreds of millions of bribes to win business in a dozen countries.
As part of a massive settlement with authorities in the United States, Brazil and Switzerland in December, Odebrecht pleaded guilty to carrying out a series of corruption schemes in Latin America and elsewhere.
Members of the National Committee to Combat Climate Change (Cnlcc) on Thursday held a demonstration and delivered a letter addressed to the head of the General Directorate of Public Contracting, Yokasta Guzman, urging the immediate cancelation of the contract for the coal-fired plant that has been under construction in Punta Catalina, southern Dominican Republic, since 2013 and is due to begin operating next year.
The Cnlcc’s Tito Olivo told EFE outside the directorate’s headquarters that Odebrecht overcharged the government for the construction work on the plant, which the environmental group says uses obsolete, highly polluting technology.
The Cnlcc furthermore called for Odebrecht to be barred from serving as a government contractor due to the bribes it paid to win contracts in the Caribbean nation.
Also Thursday, the group urged Dominican authorities to launch a thorough investigation to determine which government officials and autonomous public entities received bribes from Odebrecht.
In December, that Salvador, Brazil-based builder and its petrochemical unit, Braskem, pleaded guilty and agreed to pay a combined total penalty of at least $3.5 billion to resolve charges with authorities in the US, Brazil and Switzerland.
Those charges arose out of schemes that operated for more than a decade and involved the payment of some $788 million in bribes to government officials, their representatives and political parties in a number of countries, mostly in Latin America.
Odebrecht paid roughly $92 million in bribes to win business in the Dominican Republic between around 2002 and 2014, according to US court documents.