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Bud

Odebrecht Corruption and Fraud Investigations / Prosecutions

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Bud    118

 

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Odebrecht loses bid to block probe

Posted on September 1, 2016 in Panama

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Post Views: 90

THE CORRUPTION mired  Brazilian construction company that  has received over $9 billion in Panama government contracts has lost a claim filed in  Switzerland seeking to block  an investigation in that country by the Public Ministry of Brazil.

Menwhile Switzelnd has asked Panama’s help in its investigation into Odebrecht with millions of dollars in bribes funneled through Panama banks.

A Swiss appeals court has dismissed a claim filed by the construction company

The company had sought to prevent prosecutors from receiving documents related to offshore companies and bank accounts related to the Lava Jato (Car Wash) investigation.

According to the General Prosecutor’s Office of Switzerland, the decision was handed down in the first two weeks of August. It will grant prosecutors in Brazil access to thousands of documents.

Odebrecht plans to appeal the decision to Switzerland’s highest court.

http://www.newsroompanama.com/news/panama/odebrecht-loses-bid-block-probe

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Panama Attorney General under fire

Posted on September 19, 2016 in Panama

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Kenia Porcell
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CIVIC GROUPS  in Panama have reacted strongly to published revelations about the country’s  failure to cooperate with Brazilian prosecutors.

Attorney General, Kenia Porcell   has been singled out for her lack of response to judicial aid requests from Brazilian prosecutors working on the Lava Jato (car wash)  case.

Movin the Panama  Independent Movement  issued a statement on Monday September 19 emphasizes that, in a globalized world where crimes involve several jurisdictions, there must be cooperation between countries.

“There cannot be speeches for transparency and the combatting of corruption without being accompanied by actions that send a message to the world that Panama will not tolerate these acts,” the group said.

The neglected inquiries concerned accounts in Panama banks allegedly used to transfer bribes which the Odebrecht company has admitted paying.

The former president of the company who was feted in Panama, is serving a near 20 year jail sentence.

He is cooperating with authorities in an attempt to get his sentence reduced.

Meanwhile the Panama government and the municipality continue to award  major contracts to the  Brazilian construction company.

http://www.newsroompanama.com/news/panama/panama-attorney-general-fire

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Panama flouts money laundering probe request

Posted on September 19, 2016 in Panama

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Deltan Dallagnol and Kenia Porcell
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BRAZILIAN prosecutor’s have pulled back the veil of secrecy surrounding requests for assistance from Panama in money laundering investigations involving construction company  Odebrecht and local banks.

The Brazilian company has received billions of dollars in contracts from successive Panama  governments including over $2.5 billion from the Varela administration.

Some 18 months after having made a request for information to the Public Ministry of Panama on bank accounts, beneficiaries and other financial transactions, the Federal Public Ministry of Brazil has grown frustrated with a lack of response to its request

Of the nine specific requests made by Brazil, Attorney General Kenia Porcell has answered one, ignoring the others completely. reports La Prensa in a damning expose including copies of correspondence from Brazil.

The Brazilian officials are seeking information about company Constructora Norberto Odebrecht, S.A., which allegedly used Panama companies to launder money used to pay bribes for state contracts.

The company had admitted to paying bribes to government officials in a number of countries, including Panama.

Brazilian authorities have sought information about accounts at Credicorp Bank, which were opened for the company Constructora Internacional del Sur, S.A.

That company allegedly paid the bribes to officials. But Panama has ignored most of those requests.

This was done despite the fact that Panama has signed a number of international treaties pledging to cooperate with such investigations. Those treaties state that bank secrecy should not be an obstacle to such investigations.

Panama has also signed a criminal legal aid treaty with Brazil in which it pledged to hand over documents and provide legal assistance in the case of misappropriated legal funds.

Brazilian Prosecutor Deltan Dallagnol wrote on Aug. 18, after more than a year of waiting, “Panamanian authorities are resisting the total fulfillment of the order.”

Porcell could not be reached for comment says La Prensa

http://www.newsroompanama.com/news/panama/panama-flouts-money-laundering-probe-request

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Attorney General continues under attack

Posted on September 21, 2016 in Panama

odebrecht-office-620x264.png
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THE LACK of cooperation by Panama in the investigation of the Lava Jato corruption scandal in Brazil continues to rile the legal community and  civil  groups.

Lawyer Carlos Barsallo said Tuesday September  that international cooperation is a fundamental element in the fight against international financial crimes and corruption.

“We should cooperate when it is requested and ask for cooperation when it is necessary,” he said. “Existing laws or procedures that work against those principles must be revised.”

Carlos Lee, of the Citizens Alliance for Justice  said that Attorney General Kenia Porcell must make a formal statement clarifying the position of the Public Ministry (MP) about the claims submitted by Brazil.

“The argument has been that the request was too general. However, the reaction of Brazil reflects very poorly on the country due to the silence of the Public Ministry,” he said.

“There are cooperation agreements that oblige the country to be diligent in its  response.”

Porcell has still not responded to questions about the situation.

Brazil was seeking information on Panama bank accounts, allegedly used by the Odebrecht construction company to  launder money and funnel bribes.

Odebrect has received some $9 billion in contracts from successive Panama governments and City Hall.

http://www.newsroompanama.com/news/panama/attorney-general-continues-attack

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Silence surrounds Ministry over Odebrecht probe request

Posted on September 20, 2016 in Panama

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Kenia Porcell
Post Views: 158

A WALL OF SILENCE has surrounded the office of Panama’s Attorney General over  allegations that she has failed to assist authorities from Brazil with the investigation into corruption allegations against the construction company Odebrecht.

Earlier  Kenia  Porcell had justified her  lack of assistance by stating that the request was too vague.

But Brazilian prosecutors have made public their call for information, which contains nine specific requests related to bank accounts and other information about a Panamanian company that was allegedly used to launder money for bribes paid by Odebrecht.

The request was made 18 months ago.

La Prensa reported on Tuesday, September 20,  that it  had been seeking comment on the issue since the previous  Thursday, but the Attorney General’s Office has not responded.

Civic groups have criticized lack of cooperation by Panama on the issue.

The Independent Movement (Movin), said that the fight against corruption and crimes such as money laundering require more than speeches, but concrete action as well. It said that these actions will send the message to the world that Panama takes the issues seriously.

Legal viewpoint
A legal opinion published by La Prensa  says that under a treaty between the two nations  Panama is obliged to cooperate with Brazil in all investigations requesting assistance. In  2005, the  United Nations Convention against Corruption was adopted. This indicates that no bank may impede cooperation in combating corruption. This convention allows an aggrieved country, as is Brazil, for the lack of cooperation from Panama, to initiate a process of international arbitration or even go to the International Court of Justice in The Hague, Netherlands, to enforce and seek compensation for damages that the uncooperative actions of the Public Ministry may have caused.

http://www.newsroompanama.com/news/panama/silence-surrounds-ministry-odebrecht-probe-request

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Odebrecht paid $59 million in bribes to Panama

Posted on December 21, 2016 in Panama

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BETWEEN 2010 and 2014,  under  the Ricardo Martinelli regime the  Brazilian construction giant Odebrecht paid $59 million in bribes to senior officials in the government of Panama to secure public works contracts.

The information comes from documents released by the Court of the Eastern District of New York.

“Between 2010 and 2014, Odebrecht made $59 million in corrupt payments to officials of the government and intermediaries who worked for them to secure the award of public infrastructure contracts,” say the documents.

“Odebrecht received more than $175 million in benefits from these contracts as a result of these bribes,” the statement said.

Between 2009 and 2012 Odebrecht paid $6 million to two relatives of a high level government official, to ensure contracts.

At least $6 million was paid ­ according to the records of the Southern District Court of New York ­ through the Odebrecht Structured Payments Division, which made payments to companies established in offshore jurisdictions, following instructions from Panamanian officials and their intermediaries.

The company, which is  collaborating  with authorities, has admitted to violations of the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA), a law dating to 1977 that penalizes companies that pay bribes to officials of other governments.

Official documents do not specify the names of those who received the benefits.

US Attorney Robert L. Capers noted that the court rulings released on Wednesday, December 21 are the result of an “extraordinary international effort to identify, investigate and prosecute a highly complex and long­lasting corruption scheme based on payments by the defendant companies of about $1 billion in bribes to officials of all levels of government in many countries.”

“By attempting to conceal their crimes, the denounced companies used the global financial system­ including the banking system in the United States­to disguise the source and disbursement of bribery payments by passing funds through a series of fictional companies,” Capers added.

Odebrecht signed a global agreement with the Public Ministry of Switzerland, the United States Department of Justice and the Federal Public Prosecutor’s Office of Brazil, in which it pledged to pay $2 billion in fines.

The fine will bring criminal investigations to a close against the company in Switzerland and the U.S.

According to the documents, Odebrecht paid bribes totaling $788 million to senior officials in 12 countries. These are: Angola ($50 million), Argentina ($35 million), Brazil ($349 million), Colombia ($11 million), the Dominican Republic ($92 million), Guatemala ($18 million), Ecuador ($33.5 million), México ($10.5 million), Panamá ($59 million), Perú ($29 million) and Venezuela ($98 million).

http://www.newsroompanama.com/news/panama/odebrecht-paid-59-million-bribes-panama

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Keith Woolford    302

This company took the culture of corruption to a whole new level. It will be interesting to see who the recipients are of the $59 million that was dished out in Panama.

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Government backs kickbacks probe

Posted on December 22, 2016 in Panama

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Attorney General's HQ
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THE GROUNDSWELL of public outrage at the revelations of massive bribery of Panama’s governing elite by the Oderbrecht construction company during the Martinelli era continues to grow.

On Thursday  Dec.22  the  present government headed by President Juan Carlos Varela

reacted through a press release – a day after it  became known known about the global agreement that the Brazilian company

agreed to pay a two- billion dollar fine, pleading guilty to a complaint lodged by the Office of the Federal Prosecutor in the Eastern District Court of New York (for conspiracy To violate anti-bribery provisions Of the Corrupt Foreign Practices Act.

This highlighted the massive payment of fines to foreign officials of at least 12 countries, including Panama as the recipient of some $59 million in coima (bribery payments).

The documents released Wednesday by the US Department of Justice show that, between 2009 and 2012, Odebrecht agreed to pay $6 million

to two close relatives of a senior Panamanian official in relation to Government infrastructure projects.

In this sense, “the Government of the Republic expresses its full support for the investigations carried out by the Public Prosecutor’s Office and to punish the companies and people involved in these acts. ” says the release.

THE GROUNDSWELL of public outrage at the revelations of massive bribery of Panama’s governing elite by the Oderbrecht construction company during the Martinelli era continues to grow.

On Thursday  Dec.22  the  present government headed by President Juan Carlos Varela

reacted through a press release – a day after

it  became known known about the global agreement that the Brazilian company

agreed to pay a billion dollar fine, pleading guilty to a complaint lodged by the Office of the Federal Prosecutor in the Eastern District Court of New York (for conspiracy To violate anti-bribery provisions Of the Corrupt Foreign Practices Act.

This highlighted the massive payment of fines to foreign officials of at least 12 countries, including Panama as the recipient of some $59 million in coima (bribery payments).

The documents released Wednesday by the US Department of Justice show that, between 2009 and 2012, Odebrecht agreed to pay $6 million

to two close relatives of a senior Panamanian official in relation to Government infrastructure projects.

In this sense, “the Government of the Republic expresses its full support for the investigations carried out by the Public Prosecutor’s Office and to punish the companies and people involved in these acts. ” says the release.

http://www.newsroompanama.com/news/panama/government-backs-kickbacks-probe

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Bar Association calls for action on $59 million bribes

Posted on December 22, 2016 in Panama

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Kenia Porcell
Post Views: 127

PANAMA’S National Bar Association (CNA)  has called for an investigation led by the Attorney General  into dealings between the previous Panama Government and the Brazilian  Construction giant  Odebrecht  after the company  admitted to US authorities that it had paid millions in  bribes to obtain public contracts.

ANC president José Alberto Álvarez, said that, Kenya Porcell,

Should dictate the process and initiate an investigation ex officio.

On Wednesday, December 21,  The US Department of Justice nnounced the agreement reached with  Odebrecht, endorsed by

East New York  District Court , in which the builder admitted  the payment of at least $59 Million to senior government officials between 2010 and 2014, in exchange for public infrastructure contracts.

“This is an acceptance by the Odebrecht company of the commission of crimes In Panama, we have there what is known as the body of crime. Now we have to investigate the culprits. Then it is up to the Public Ministry, “Álvarez said.

If the investigations are not started, Álvarez will ask the CNA

On Tuesday, December 27, to formally request the  research

The Public Ministry said on Wednesday 21 in its Twitter account that it will request information on the case from the United States.

http://www.newsroompanama.com/news/panama/bar-association-calls-action-59-million-bribes

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Chamber of Commerce demands Odebrecht repayment

Posted on December 23, 2016 in Panama

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Jorge-Garcia-Icaza_
Post Views: 113

THE PANAMA  Chamber of Commerce, (CCIAP)  has added its voice to the growing calls for action over the Odebrecht  scandal ridden construction giant.

The Chamber is calling for a review  of Odebrecht contracts and a search for  mechanisms to prevent the Brazilian company continuing  to participate in contracting acts with the State.

“We appeal to the Panamanian authorities to seek mechanisms, as was done in the United States, to suspend the right of participation of undertakings In new hires until the subsidiary  cooperates with authorities and compensate the State and the people of Panama  for contracts that have been overcharged [to allow for] the payment of bribes ,” said Jorge García Icaza, president of the CCIAP, in  a press release.

He added that the works being developed, such as the second line of the Metro, and the renovationCity of Colón and the new terminal at Tocumen airport, must conclude “without delays or overcharges “.

On December 21, the US Department of Justice released documents in which Odebrecht admits to have paid up to $59 million in fines to high Panamanian officials, between 2010 and 2014, in exchange for infrastructure contracts

Public. In total, the company paid $788 million in bribes to officials of various countries, according to the agreement endorsed by the Court of the Eastern District of New York.

“This shameful scenario confirms what we proposed last April

“It is really necessary to include the mechanisms of disqualification for companies that have been convicted locally or internationally for money laundering offenses, or corruption , “said García Icaza.

Odebrecht is the largest contractor in the Panamanian State, with projects that total  $ 9 billion.

This year, the Assembly approved a package of reforms to the Public Procurement Law,but did not include articles to prohibit the participation of companies investigated for corruption abroad  in spite of widespread condemnation by civic groups.

The project is still pending approval in the Assembly, after being vetoed by President Juan Carlos Varela.

It is not known when discussion will be resumed.

“We insist that the amendment of the Law 2 of 2006, which regulates the contracting must be resumed. The bill that modifies these regulations, which were widely debated, was shelved during the past session ” said García Icaza.

http://www.newsroompanama.com/news/panama/chamber-commerce-demands-odebrecht-repayment

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Prosecutor calls for Odebrecht contracts audit

Posted on December 23, 2016 in Panama

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PUBLIC Prosecutor Guido Rodríguez has called on  Comptroller Federico Humbert to audit all public works and government infrastructure projects carried out by the Brazilian company Norberto Odebrecht in the period 2009­- 2014.

According to the public prosecutor, an audit is required, since Odebrecht officials admitted to the United States Department of Justice that it paid bribes to Panamanian officials of $59 million during that period. Rodríguez added that, according to the documents, the company’s profits for that period were $175 million  reports  La Prensa.

http://www.newsroompanama.com/news/panama/prosecutor-calls-odebrecht-contracts-audit

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Special anti-corruption prosecutor’s team assigned to Odebrecht probe

Posted on December 28, 2016 in Panama

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Alliance for Justice demonstration at Attorney General's office.
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A SPECIAL Anticorruption Prosecutor’s Office has been set up to investigate exclusively the bribes paid to Panama officials by the Brazilian construction company Odebrecht.

The prosecutors in charge will be Tania Sterling, Vielka Broce, Ruth Morcillo and Zuleika Moore.

The team will also include prosecutors Ricardo Muñoz and Thalia Palacios and four more, whose names have not yet  been specified.

In addition,  a Portuguese translator  will be assigned to the team.

Prosecutors Adelcio Mojica, Javier Miter, Lizzie Bonilla and Heydi Cedeño will take over the cases of the prosecutors who have been investigating corruption cases involving scores of millions of dollars  linked to the Ricardo Martinelli administration, tied to over 40 former officials and businessmen.

Members of the CD Party and their leader, Martinelli, have labeled the investigations as “political persecution.”

Currently, there are delegations from the Attorney General’s Office in the United States and Ecuador seeking information on the bribes paid by Odebrecht.

The new Ode brecht-probe team’s first act wa to raid the company’s Panama office on Wednesday Dec.28

The creation of a special unit to investigate the Odebrecht case was suggested by the Citizen’s Alliance for Justice which staged  a demonstration in front of the Attoney General’s office while the raid was underway.

http://www.newsroompanama.com/news/panama/special-anti-corruption-prosecutors-team-assigned-odebrecht-probe

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Bolding of text and highlighting were added by me (not part of the original news article).

 

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Justice group calls for bribery special prosecutor

Posted on December 28, 2016 in Panama

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Varela studies a map of Line 2 after the contract was awarded to Odebrecht
Post Views: 67

INCREASING demands by civil and political groups for strong action in the Odebrecht bribery scandal have put the spotlight on the current administration,  and its dealings with the construction giant,Kus  highlighted by the non-appearance of President  Juan Carlos Varela at a press conference to outline a government response.

The Citizen’s Alliance for Justice has called for the creation of a special prosecutor’s office to investigate the bribes paid by Odebrecht to Panamanian officials between 2009 and 2014.

The alliance, in a statement on Wednesday Dec 28, was also critical of the decision by the Varela government to award the Brazilian firm contracts totaling $2.6 billion despite knowing that it was being investigated for corruption.

“It is because of the above that officials of the current government must also be investigated and therefore the only way to create trust in citizens is to allow the creation of an independent international commission to collaborate with the Attorney General’s Office in this investigation,” the alliance said in a press release.

Odebrecht has been awarded $9 billion in contracts since 2006.

The alliance noted that the Public Procurement Law should be changed to prohibit companies convicted of corruption from engaging in public bids.

Odebrecht has  admitted to paying $788 million in bribes to officials from various countries, including at least $59 million in Panama between 2009 and 2014.

The alliance has called for the identification of officials who received the bribes.

It planned  to hold a demonstration outside the offices of the public prosecutor.

http://www.newsroompanama.com/news/panama/justice-group-asks-special-prosecutor-bribery-scandal

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Panama comptroller starts bribery audits

Posted on December 27, 2016 in Panama

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Carlos Ho Gonzalez
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AN AUDIT  of former Public Works Ministry official Carlos Ho,  will likely be followed  by investigations of other officials including some in the current administration who have been identified by Odebrecht officials as related to acts of bribery by the company Odebrecht says Panama’s Comptroller.

Ho  has already been named as one of the people they bribed in exchange for contracts.

Ho held the position of director of Special Projects of the ministry and was in the institution for eight years under ex presidents Martin Torrijos and Ricardo Martinelli..

In a statement, Comptroller Federico Humbert stressed that “all persons who have held public positions, including active officials, that are linked to bribery will be investigated.”

After completing the Ho audit, the comptroller will send an authenticated copy to the Attorney General’s Office for possible criminal prosecution.

Ho was identified by banker Vinicius Veiga Borin, who signed an agreement with Brazil  judicial authorities.

Veiga Borin worked for Antigua Overseas Bank and Meinl Bank in Antigua. That bank handled accounts for Odebrecht that were used to pay bribes.

Ho told La Prensa in June that he does not know Veiga Borin, who identified him as a beneficiary of an account in the name of the offshore company Pivotal Corp., one of the companies connected to Odebrecht.

http://www.newsroompanama.com/news/panama/panama-comptroller-starts-bribery-audits

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$59 million Panama bribes could be tip of iceberg

Posted on December 27, 2016 in Panama

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La Prensa cartoonist Low suggests the Odebrecht revelations could be the end of the road for Martinelli.
Post Views: 214

THE $59 MILLION  paid out in bribes in Panama by construction  firm  Norberto Odebrecht, covers only the  five years, when  ex-President Ricardo Martinelli was in power.

But Odebrecht has received public contracts since 2006, during the term of former President Martín Torrijos, and during the current administration of President Juan Carlos Varela.

Now questions are being raised about whether or not the amount of bribes paid in Panama may have been  greater reports La Prensa.

For now, the only person mentioned by name is Carlos Ho, an ex­official of the Ministry of Public Works who worked for two governments: Torrijos and Martinelli. Ho has denied receiving any bribes.

Martinelli’s sons

Ricardo-Martinelli-Enrique-Alberto_LPRIM

Ricardo Martinelli and his sons Enrique and Ricardo. All three have fled Panama

Meanwhile Swiss authorities have opened investigations into two sons of Martinelli, Luis Enrique and Ricardo Alberto Martinelli Linares, who allegedly received bribes as intermediaries of the government. But they have yet to be charged with any crime.

Odebrecht’s volume of bribes was so vast that it had to create a department, called the Structured Operations Sector, to move hundreds of millions of dollars to its “customers.” In addition, it had to create specialized software to keep parallel accounting, to that of the business group.

And it contracted financial operators who were responsible for creating the structure of laundering money through phantom offshore companies ­ many of them created in Panama ­ that included fictitious contracts to give the appearance of legality to the transactions.

These operators opened hundreds of bank accounts all over the world ­ including in the Panamanian banking system.

Such was the volume of bribes that Odebrecht bought the Austrian branch of Antigua’s Meinl Bank, after it failed to buy a branch of Antigua Overseas Bank (AOB).

That branch, which was purchased in 2010, was managed by Vinicius Veiga Borin, who was the official who implicated  Carlos Ho.

http://www.newsroompanama.com/news/panama/59-million-panama-bribes-tip-iceberg

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Keith Woolford    302
On 12/25/2016 at 2:47 PM, Moderator_02 said:

Norberto Odebrecht is a huge contracting firm in Central and South America.

Their business M.O. has been to pay bribes to government officials as commissions for getting infrastructure work in many countries in the Southern Hemisphere, including Brazil, Peru, Chile, and Panama. To the best of my knowledge, the firm has never worked in the U.S.

Bribes were paid through Swiss bank accounts and other offshore entities, about $800 million total, last count.

Can someone please explain why the U.S. government will or should collect $3.5 billion?

 

Edited by Keith Woolford

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Bonnie    390
20 minutes ago, Keith Woolford said:

Norberto Odebrecht is a huge contracting firm in Central and South America.

Their business M.O. has been to pay bribes to government officials as commissions for getting infrastructure work in many countries in the Southern Hemisphere, including Brazil, Peru, Chile, and Panama. To the best of my knowledge, the firm has never worked in the U.S.

Bribes were paid through Swiss bank accounts and other offshore entities, about $800 million total, last count.

Can someone please explain why the U.S. government will or should collect $3.5 billion?

 

According to the following website, there is an Odebrecht USA branch and the assertion that the company does business in over twenty countries:

http://www.odebrechtusa.com/odebrecht-usa/odebrecht-group/odebrecht-world

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Keith Woolford    302

I stand corrected Bonnie, should've checked that.

Even if there is a subsidiary of Odebrecht in the U.S., the offenses apparently didn't occur there.

Edited by Keith Woolford

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Bonnie    390
10 minutes ago, Keith Woolford said:

I stand corrected Bonnie, should've checked that.

Even if there is a subsidiary of Odebrecht in the U.S., the offenses apparently didn't occur there.

I agree, Keith. It explains very little to nothing. I really wish Panama news reporting were better.

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