Unsealed Testimony: Brazilian Firm Paid Out $3.3 Billion In Bribes Over A Decade

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Robert Donachie Capitol Hill and Health Care Reporter
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The company at the center of a historic corruption scandal paid billions in bribes from 2005 to 2014, according to a report released Sunday by the leading Brazilian newspaper the Estado de S. Paulo.

Odebrecht, a Brazilian-based engineering firm, paid nearly $3.3 billion in bribes through a company department specifically created to funnel money to politicians and other groups to obtain public work contracts, according to testimony a Brazilian judge unsealed. The payments were released in a spreadsheet that a former Odebrecht executive reportedly turned over to prosecutors as part of a plea deal. During the peak years of the operation, the company shelled out as much as $730 million.

All across Latin America, Odebrecht’s bridges, roads, and power plants are on display. All of the projects were more expensive than anticipated, with some going as high as four times over budget. Some of them were never even finished.

Odebrecht was able to get highly coveted government contracts through paying out millions in bribes to politicians and other government officials. Odebrecht’s former CEO has been in prison since 2015, a year after government officials began investigating the company.

The company signed a deal with US and Swiss authorities in 2016 confessing to corruption charges. In what is now widely described as the largest leniency deal every signed, Odebrecht agreed to pay up to $3.5 billion in fines.

Investigators are currently looking into whether or not any of the disclosed kickback payments violated Brazilian law. The payments in question were made in a variety of foreign countries, including Mexico and Peru.

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