Brazilian construction giant paid over $3 bn in bribes: Report

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Brasilia, April 16 (IANS) Brazilian construction giant Odebrecht paid a total of $3.37 billion in bribes to government officials from 2006 to 2014, according to a report.

The detailed report submitted on Saturday to prosecutors by Hilberto Mascarenhas, a former executive, says bribes gradually grew from $60 million in 2006 to $730 million in both 2012 and 2013, Xinhua news agency reported.

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.

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 to investigators in the US and Switzerland for international charges related to the scandal.

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

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

–IANS

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