US court fines Brazil’s Odebrecht $2.6B over bribes

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NEW YORK: A federal court in New York on Monday imposed a $2.6 billion fine on Brazil’s scandal-plagued construction giant Odebrecht, part of what US authorities describe as a one of the largest-ever corporate settlements for international bribery.

Odebrecht and the petrochemical affiliate Braskem had in December already agreed to pay a total of $3.5 billion to settle the case, in which the companies admitted to paying nearly $800 million in bribes to government officials and political parties to win business on three continents.

US District Judge Raymond Dearie in Brooklyn ordered Odebrecht to pay a total of $2.6 billion, with $93 million going to the United States, $116 million to Switzerland and the remainder to authorities in Brazil.

The December plea agreement had sought to impose a far steeper $4.5 billion but this amount was reduced because Odebrecht was not able to pay it. As part of the agreement, Braskem agreed to pay $957 million.

Brazilian investigators say Odebrecht was one of the ringleaders of a scheme to plunder billions of dollars from state oil company Petrobras. The scandal has rocked Brazil’s political and business establishment.

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