HAVANA TIMES – Recent allegations of corruption against the huge Brazilian construction company Odebrecht shook political spheres of several Latin American countries involved in the alleged payment of bribes, dpa reported on Thursday.
A total of 10 countries in the region are involved in Odebrecht’s corrupt plot, according to documents released Wednesday by the US Justice Department. In addition to Brazil, among the states where the company spent US $788 million in bribes to obtain public contracts since 2011 are Argentina, Mexico and Venezuela, and also two African countries.
One day after the details were released, Argentina’s Anti-Corruption Office asked the Brazilian prosecutors and investigators from Buenos Aires to “determine the identity” of alleged recipients of bribes.
Odebrecht is investigated in four cases directly in Argentine territory, where it allegedly disbursed $35 million in bribes between 2007 and 2014, in a period that falls between the Governments of Néstor Kirchner (2003-2007) and Cristina Fernández de Kirchner (2007-2015).
In Caracas, although the Venezuelan Government did not react, the National Assembly did respond. Odebrecht spent the largest amount of bribery in that country since 2011, according to US Department of Justice documents.
The president of the National Assembly, Maduro government opponent Henry Ramos Allup, asked that Odebrecht reveal “to whom they paid bribes or provided financing in Venezuela”.
Freddy Guevara, the head of the Comptroller’s Committee of the Parliament, and also of the opposition, said that the panel will initiate an investigation based on documents released by the United States Justice Dept.
Guevara directly cited the cases of several works in which Odebrecht participates and whose execution is also paralyzed or delayed, including two lines of underground trains on the outskirts of Caracas and line 5 of the Caracas Metro.
In Peru, President Pedro Pablo Kuczynksi personally asked his country’s Prosecutor’s Office to identify the officials involved in the alleged bribe payments. According to the US Justice Dept., the Brazilian construction company paid bribes in Peru for 29 million dollars during three different governments between 2005 and 2014.
Colombia also said it will investigate the allegations. “We will have the ability to detect in record time what public officials were bribed, how resources were channeled for the payment of those bribes and in what contracts specifically this type of irregular practice was given,” said Transparency secretary Camilo Enciso, to the radio station Caracol.
Ecuador, on the other hand, reacted with less enthusiasm indicating that the central Government does not currently have contracts with Odebrecht, although it did not rule out “that there had been payments”. The Brazilian construction company supposedly spent 33.5 million dollars in bribes between 2007 and 2016 in Ecuador.
The Panamanian Government, implicated in $59 million of the bribes paid between 2010 and 2014, requested information directly from Washington on the allegations.
Guatemala, for its part, merely stated that it will review the contracts for more information. Odebrecht is accused of having spent $18 million dollars between 2013 and 2015 in that Central American country.
Another of the countries where Odebrecht is accused of having paid bribes is Mexico, where the construction company allegedly paid $10.5 million between 2010 and 2014, during the governments of Felipe Calderón and Enrique Peña Nieto.
Odebrecht, the largest infrastructure company in Latin America in recent years, announced on Wednesday an agreement with the Brazilian, Swiss and United States authorities to pay a fine of $3.5 billion dollars in order to suspend the charges it faces in the courts of those countries.