New leads in Odebrecht case must be followed up in 11 countries after settlement
Transparency International today calls on the national prosecutors of 9 Latin American countries and two African countries to ask US, Brazilian and Swiss prosecutors to share the evidence in their $2.6 billion settlement with Brazilian construction company Odebrecht. This information can be used to investigate those who accepted bribes and allowed Odebrecht to steal business from rivals in these 11 countries.
The settlement reached between prosecutors and Odebrecht cracks wide open the global grand corruption machine, exposing a financial network involving shell companies and several banks to funnel more than $788 million dollars in bribes to corrupt government officials and political parties and their leaders in Angola, Argentina, Colombia, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, Guatemala, Mexico, Mozambique, Panama, Peru and Venezuela.
“The authorities in these countries must act now on this information. There should be no impunity for bribery. The evidence should be shared and the guilty brought to justice,” said Transparency International Chair José Ugaz.
“Prosecutors from these 11 countries should work together in a joint investigation team, as recommended by the United Nations Convention against Corruption, to make their work more effective and potentially create a more timely and sustained approach to create accountability,” Ugaz added.
The US Justice Department yesterday said Odebrecht S.A. and Braskem S.A., a Brazilian petrochemical company related to Odebrecht, 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 relating to schemes to pay hundreds of millions of dollars in bribes to government officials.
Odebrecht’s Division of Structured Operations -- called a “Department of Bribery” by US Department of Justice -- systematically undermined the integrity of government officials across Latin America and in Angola and Mozambique.
Now that prosecutors in Brazil, the US and Switzerland have done their part in bringing a conclusive settlement to this global criminal case, it’s time for other countries to follow the many leads provided and not let Odebrecht and the bribe-taking high level officials avoid further prosecution with impunity.
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