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Petrobras wreckage: Marcelo Odebrecht sentenced to 19 years in prison

Brazil construction tycoon Marcelo Odebrecht was sentenced to 19 years in prison Tuesday as part of the ongoing investigation into corruption at state-owned energy giant Petrobras. 

A report by Petro Global News said a federal court sentenced Odebrecht to 19 years in prison on charges of money laundering, corruption and taking part in a criminal association. 

Odebrecht, 47, paid more than $30 million in bribes to Petrobras officials in an effort to win contracts, the report said.       

He was arrested in June following allegations that his firm, Odebrecht SA, had participated in a bribery scheme tied to Petrobras contracts. Lead prosecutor Carlos Fernando dos Santos Limas said then he had “no doubt” that Odebrecht and other executives were running a corruption “cartel.” 

Odebrecht was formally charged in July, just days after Petrobras confirmed irregularities in a 2009 deal to provide petroleum products to Brazil-based Braskem SA, a joint venture between Odebrecht and Petrobras.

Odebrecht SA was founded in 1944 by Marcelo Odebrecht’s grandfather. The firm operates in 27 countries with more than 250,000 employees. It was the contractor for some of the stadiums built for the 2014 World Cup in Brazil and for the Olympic Park for the Summer Olympics to be held in Brazil in August.

Former Petrobras downstream executive Paulo Roberto Costa and alleged black-market money man Alberto Youssef said in July that Braskem paid bribes to secure below market prices for napthta. 

Costa, who was convicted on corruption charges last year, added that the 2009 deal resulted in losses for Petrobras.   

In a filing in April last year with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, petrochemical giant Braskem said it is investigating allegations that two former executives bribed officials at Petrobras for favorable raw material supply agreements.

Braskem said it self reported the findings to regulators in Brazil and to the DOJ and SEC in the United States.

The company said it hadn’t heard back from the U.S. agencies.

The Petrobras scandal, known as Operation Car Wash, began in early 2014 when Brazilian Federal Police and public prosecutors launched a corruption investigation.

The case has already landed several former Petrobras executives in jail and has now made its way to the top levels of Brazilian politics. 

Last week, former Brazil president Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva was detained for questioning. Police raided his home and offices in connection with the probe. Prosecutors allege that Lula da Silva received luxury real estate and speaking fees from companies involved in the corruption scandal.


A version of this post first appeared in Petro Global News and is republished here with permission.

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