US judge approves $2.6B fine for Odebrecht in corruption case

NEW YORK (Reuters) – A US judge yesterday sentenced Brazilian engineering company Odebrecht SA to pay $2.6 billion in fines in a massive criminal corruption case, signing off on a plea deal between the company and US, Brazilian and Swiss authorities.

US District Judge Raymond Dearie said at a hearing in Brooklyn federal court that about $93 million will go to the United States, $2.39 billion to Brazil and $116 million to Switzerland.

Odebrecht, along with affiliated petrochemical company Braskem SA, pleaded guilty to US bribery charges in December.

US authorities charged Odebrecht with paying about $788 million in bribes to officials in 12 countries, mostly in Latin America, to secure lucrative contracts.

Some of those bribes flowed through US banks, the prosecutors said.

Yesterday’s order comes as Odebrecht tries to negotiate plea deals with other countries, including Argentina, Chile, Colombia, Ecuador, Mexico, Peru, the Dominican Republic, Venezuela, Panama and Portugal.

A public relations executive working for Odebrecht in São Paulo had no immediate comment. William Burck, a lawyer for Odebrecht in the United States, declined to comment after the court hearing.

The charges against Odebrecht stemmed from a nearly three-year investigation in Brazil into corruption at the state-run oil company Petrobras, which has led to dozens of arrests and political upheaval in Brazil.

Brazilian President Michel Temer said yesterday he expects some of his ministers to resign after they were implicated in the investigation.

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