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News > Latin America

Brazil's Odebrecht Paid $3.3 Billion in Bribes over a Decade

  • Protesters on the streets of Copacabana Beach boulevard calling for the end of corruption, in Copacabana, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, July 31, 2016.

    Protesters on the streets of Copacabana Beach boulevard calling for the end of corruption, in Copacabana, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, July 31, 2016. | Photo: EFE

Published 16 April 2017
Opinion

Odebrecht negotiated a far-reaching plea agreement with Brazilian investigators last year, leading to testimony by about 80 company employees.

Odebrecht, the Brazilian engineering company at the center of a historic corruption scandal, paid out a total of about US$3.3 billion in bribes in the nine years through 2014, according to testimony cited by local media on Saturday.

Through a department specifically established to pay politicians and other recipients for public works contracts, Odebrecht paid as much as US$730 million annually in both 2012 and 2013, the years when bribe payments peaked, according to a spreadsheet that a former executive reportedly gave investigators as part of a plea deal.

The US$3.3 billion figure, and related annual tallies as laid out in the spreadsheet, were reported on Saturday by the G1 news site of the Globo media group and the Estado de S. Paulo, a leading newspaper.

A trove of plea deal testimony unsealed this week by a Supreme Court justice is shedding light on the extent and manner in which Odebrecht, once Latin America's most successful engineering firm, routinely paid officials in Brazil and other countries in exchange for winning contracts.

The testimony was unsealed as the justice, Edson Fachin, authorized investigations of eight government ministers, 12 governors and dozens of federal lawmakers implicated in the scandal, uncovered three years ago because of a kickback investigation at the state-run oil company Petrobras.

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