SANTO DOMINGO – The president of the Dominican Senate was questioned on Thursday as part of an investigation into bribes paid by Brazilian construction giant Odebrecht to win government contracts in the Caribbean nation.
Attorney General Jean Alain Rodriguez summoned Sen. Reinaldo Pared Perez to answer questions about lawmakers’ approval of legislation pertaining to public works projects carried out by Odebrecht.
The Brazilian firm paid roughly $92 million in bribes to win business in the Dominican Republic between 2001 and 2014, according to US court documents.
Testimony from Pared Perez, who led the Senate from 2006-2014 and returned to the chamber’s presidency last August, could shed light on Odebrecht’s conduct, the AG Office said in a statement.
Following the nearly three-hour session with prosecutors, Pared Perez, the secretary-general of the governing PLD party, told reporters he “never” had any ties with Odebrecht executives.
He also said he knew of no attempt to bribe lawmakers to approve projects at any point in his tenure as Senate chief or that of his PLD colleague Cristina Lizardo, who held the post from August 2014 to August 2016.
Two former Senate presidents, Andres Bautista and Jesus Vasquez, both from the main opposition PRM, were questioned earlier and likewise denied any connection to Odebrecht.
In December 2016, Odebrecht 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.