Brazil bribery probe hits projects in other countries: report


Construction projects in at least six Latin American countries have been impacted by a major Brazilian corruption scandal that saw companies pay bribes for contracts, a regional investigation showed Sunday. Progress in “Operation Car Wash” — a massive probe into embezzlement and bribery at the Brazilian state oil firm Petrobras — led the Brazilian Development Bank (BNDES) to suspend the disbursement of $3.6 billion for 16 projects in Argentina, Venezuela, Dominican Republic, Cuba, Honduras and Guatemala, according to a report by the Latin American press consortium Diarios America (GDA) published in Brazil’s O Globo newspaper.

Grants were awarded between 2003 and 2015 under the governments of left-wing presidents Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva and Dilma Rousseff. In Venezuela, which received $3.1 billion for six construction projects, the expansion of the Caracas metro is now compromised. In the Dominican Republic, which received $2.5 billion, the completion of road works and the construction of a thermoelectric plant are at stake. Projects in the African countries of Angola, Ghana and Mozambique are also under review.

The GDA report said the projects were all under the charge of Brazil’s largest construction companies now embroiled in Operation Car Wash: Odebrecht, Andrade Gutierrez Camargo Correa, Queiroz Galvao and OAS. The investigation indicated that seven countries — Argentina, Chile, Costa Rica, Guatemala, Panama, Peru and Uruguay — requested information from Brazilian prosecutors in order to investigate contracts under suspension. Petrobras is accused of giving inflated contracts to big construction firms in exchange for hefty bribes, with high-ranking politicians taking a cut of the proceeds.

Dozens of politicians and some of Brazil’s richest businessmen have been charged or convicted. Brazilian President Michel Temer on Saturday “vehemently” denied asking Odebrecht for nearly $3 million in campaign funds for a party candidate, a new twist in the scandal. GDA is a consortium of 11 Latin American newspapers, including O Globo, Argentina’s La Nacion and Chile’s El Mercurio.




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