Former CEO of Latin America’s largest construction company, Marcelo Odebrecht, has received a 19 year jail term for his involvement in a Brazil-wide corruption probe.
The probe, termed Operation Car Wash by Brazilian media, has swept across the country, revealing how the construction conglomerate bought and bribed their way into numerous businesses and projects.
Judge Sérgio Moro ruled that Odebrecht would serve a longer jail term than colleagues Márcio Faria and Rogério Araújo who were also facing trial.
The business tycoon was convicted of paying over $30 million in bribes to officials at state oil firm Petrobras in exchange for contracts and influence. The scandal has cost the hydrocarbons company over $16 billion, including some $2 billion which went straight to corrupt executives and firms.
Odebrecht was charged with money laundering, corruption and for his involvement in a criminal association. The businessman has been in prison since June last year.
Operation Car Wash has also seen former president Lula da Silva and Dilma Rousseff, who previously worked for Petrobras, come under increasing scrutiny by Brazilian media.
Emilio Odebrecht, Marcelo’s father and founder of the construction company had previously stated during an interview with Época magazine that “they will have to build three more cells: one for me, one for Lula and one for Dilma.”
As protests and marches against Rousseff continue, impeachment claims against the president could once again resurface, as disgruntled and angry citizens continue to clamour for a political scene which remains clear of corruption.
“What Odebrecht didn’t initially want to happen is now underway, at the very least it’s negociable. As the owner of Brazil’s main construction company, he’s (Marcelo Odebrecht) going have a lot to talk about when it comes to returning the money,” Magdalena Romeu, a reporter for O Globo told daily El Tiempo.
Concerns in Colombia
Across the border in neighboring Colombia, concerns have been raised over possible international bribery and money laundering allegations from ongoing contracts between the Brazilian firm and the country’s Ministry of Transport.
Odebrecht were involved in the Ruta del Sol Sector 2 project, improvements to the Magdalena river channel and the Transversal de Boyacá Phase 2. Colombian government will “revise the contracts which have been underwritten between the transport sector entities and businesses in which the Odebrecht group has acted as investor.” According to El Espectador.
Odebrecht is not currently under investigation in Colombia, but that could be set to change if corruption links are established and identified.
The firm has refused to comment, waiting instead for instructions from Brazil as how to manage the snowballing scandal.