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News > Latin America

Brazil: Marcelo Odebrecht Leaves Prison

  • Marcelo Odebrecht, former CEO of Latin America's largest engineering and construction company, Odebrecht, is escorted by Federal Police officers.

    Marcelo Odebrecht, former CEO of Latin America's largest engineering and construction company, Odebrecht, is escorted by Federal Police officers. | Photo: Reuters

Published 19 December 2017

Marcelo Odebrecht will be reacquainted with his opulent surroundings as he has been placed under house arrest.

After spending two and a half years behind bars, Marcelo Odebrecht, former CEO of Latin America's largest construction firm bearing his surname, is scheduled to be released from prison and placed under house arrest today. 

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The tycoon at the nucleus of Brazil's “Car Wash” embezzlement and bribery investigations will be transferred from penitentiary in Curitiba, Parana back to his luxury residential condominium in Morumbi, an exclusive neighborhood tucked away in the city of Sao Paulo.

Returning to the place where he was originally detained by federal police, Odebrecht, the man, - previously referred to as “the prince” - will be reacquainted with his opulent surroundings, including a burly security apparatus that will ensure complete privacy, even from neighbors, according to Brasil 24/7. He'll be required to wear an electronic ankle bracelet and, in compliance with the deal struck with public prosecutors, limited to leaving home for two days over the next two and a half years.

Sentenced to 10 years for bribery and money laundering, Odebrecht is expected to spend the remainder of his conviction under house arrest. Come the next two and a half years, he'll be allowed on daytime excursions. The final period of his sentence will require that he only be at home on weekends.

Despite Odebrecht's release, the company he once commanded remains embroiled in a slew of corruption cases stretching far beyond Brazil.

Since last year, Odebrecht company executives have cooperated with Brazil's federal police to reveal bribes that were paid to public officials in Latin America and elsewhere, illicitly acquiring contracts since 2001. They admitted to paying out bribes in excess of US$788 million in 2016 alone. The system of subornation reached such heights that the company had its very own bribery department, according to Japan Times.

Numerous ministers, presidential candidates and former and serving presidents were reportedly party to the payout and Latin American authorities have been making arrests of those cited in the ongoing investigations.

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The latest allegations involve Peruvian President Pedro Pablo Kuczynski. Though he's denied the accusations, claiming that political opponents are exploiting the incident in order to wrestle “control of the state without having won the presidential election.”

Despite the political row pitting right against left, over 100,000 Peruvian construction workers have been left unemployed due to Odebrecht construction projects that have come to a standstill. That number will double, according to the Peru's Civil Workers' Union, if national construction companies, also accused of corruption, are halted.

“It doesn't matter if businessmen steal if they are in jail. They will always have money,” said Alberto Hidalgo, one of the unemployed workers.

“Meanwhile, we, the people must live out of their salaries and don't have a steady job. How are we going to live? We'll have to survive selling candy or anything that we can.”

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