Brazilian construction giant Odebrecht pays 3.3 bln USD in bribes to officials

Added On April 16, 2017

RIO DE JANEIRO, April 15 (Xinhua) -- Brazilian construction giant Odebrecht paid a total of 3.37 billion U.S. dollars in bribes to government officials from 2006 to 2014, local media reported on Saturday.

According to a detailed chart submitted to prosecutors by Hilberto Mascarenhas, a former executive, bribes gradually grew from 60 million U.S. dollars in 2006 to 730 million U.S dollars in both 2012 and 2013, news network Globo said on its website.

Mascarenhas used to head a special department specifically established to pay officials for lucrative public works contracts. The department continued to function until 2015, even after federal police launched Operation Car Wash, a wide-ranging investigation into government corruption.

Mascarenhas said that payments were made with suitcases full of cash delivered to middlemen working for the politicians, or through companies expressly created and registered in offshore tax havens for the purpose of making the transactions.

A trove of plea deal testimonies unsealed this week by Edson Fachin, a Supreme Court justice, revealed that the scandal was uncovered three years ago because of a kickback investigation at the state-run oil company Petrobras.

Odebrecht, once Latin America's most successful engineering firm, negotiated a far-reaching plea agreement with Brazilian investigators last year, according to testimony by about 80 company executives and employees.

It also agreed to pay at least 3.5 billion U.S.dollars to investigators in the United States and Switzerland for international charges related to the scandal.

On Saturday, Estado de S.Paulo, a leading newspaper, reported that Brazilian authorities were investigating if any of the foreign kickbacks the company has already admitted violated Brazilian law.

So far, the investigation has incriminated about 200 political figures, including former presidents, current cabinet members, and the speakers of both houses of congress.