U.S. judge fines Brazil’s Odebrecht $2.6B over bribery scheme

April 18 (UPI) — A U.S. judge has fined Brazil’s Odebrecht, one of the largest construction conglomerates in Latin America, $2.6 billion over its role in a multinational bribery scandal.

The fine was part of a plea bargain deal struck between Brazilian, Swiss and U.S. authorities in December. The judge ruled on Monday that Brazil will receive $2.39 billion and the rest will go to Switzerland and the United States.

Odebrecht will pay the fine off to Brazil within 32 years as part of an annual collection, while the United States will receive about $93 million within four years. Switzerland will receive a cash payment of $116 million.

Odebrecht agreed to lay off 51 employees involved in the corruption scheme and to fire an additional 26 from senior management positions, Jornal O Globo reported. The company will also be under the review of an external monitor for three years to determine if it is complying with rules set under the plea agreement.

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Odebrecht is also being investigated for alleged bribery schemes in Argentina, Chile, Colombia, Ecuador, Mexico, Peru, the Dominican Republic, Venezuela, Panama and Portugal.

Dozens of Brazilian business leaders and politicians have been indicted for corruption, money laundering and racketeering over the bribery scandal related to Petrobras, a semi-public oil and gas company. Politicians in other countries, including Venezuela and Peru, have also been placed under investigation.

Deputy Assistant Attorney General Sung-Hee Suh of the U.S. Justice Department said Odebrecht’s bribery scheme was so massive it had a separate section to operate the illicit activity he called the “Department of Bribery.”

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