Swiss convict Brazilian construction giant in bribery case

Swiss prosecutors on Wednesday said they had ordered Brazilian construction giant Odebrecht and its subsidiaries to pay nearly $200 million in connection with the corruption scandal at the Petrobras state oil company.

Swiss convict Brazilian construction giant in bribery case
Photo: Yasuyoshi Chiba/AFP
Switzerland's attorney general's office (OAG) said in a statement that it had “convicted the Brazilian company Odebrecht and one of its subsidiaries of inadequate corporate organization in connection with the Petrobras affair.”
In total, the office said it was demanding payment from Odebrecht and its subsidiaries Construtora Norberto Odebrecht SA (CNO) and Braskem of over 200 million Swiss francs ($195 million, 187 million euros).
It pointed out that the penalty was “part of a coordinated conclusion to the proceedings, initiated by Switzerland and also involving Brazil and the USA”.
The OAG said that since 2014 it had been conducting around 60 criminal investigations into the massive corruption scandal rocking Petrobras, amid suspicion that huge portions of the funds scammed from the semi-state-owned Brazilian oil company were funnelled through Swiss banks.
It said its probes had enabled it to establish that “various companies in the construction industry paid bribes in order to secure contracts.”
“Investigators were able to trace the payments back, among others to Odebrecht SA and its subsidiary Construtora Norberto Odebrecht SA (CNO), which have their headquarters in Brazil,” OAG said.
It ruled that Odebrecht and CNO were “guilty of a violation of corporate criminal law” since “they did not take all reasonable organizational measures required to prevent the offences of bribing foreign public officials… and money laundering.”
Out of the 200 million-Swiss-franc sum, prosecutors ordered the two companies to pay 117 million in liabilities.
It also found that another company, Braskem, which is majority owned by Odebrect and which counts Petrobras as one of its shareholders, had “paid bribes via the same channels”.
But it said the Swiss proceedings against Braskem had been dropped — against a payment of 94.5 million Swiss francs — since that company was being prosecuted in the United States also for its actions in Switzerland.
In addition, the OAG said it had slapped the companies with a fine of 4.5 million Swiss francs.


Barçagate: Police raid FC Barcelona offices and arrest former president

Police raided the offices of FC Barcelona on Monday, carrying out several arrests just six days ahead of the club's presidential elections, a Catalan regional police spokesman told AFP.

Barçagate: Police raid FC Barcelona offices and arrest former president
Barcelona's former president Josep Maria Bartomeu is among the arrested. Photo: Josep Lago/AFP

Spain's Cadena Ser radio said one of those arrested was former club president Josep Maria Bartomeu, who resigned in October, along with CEO Oscar Grau and the club's head of legal services.

But the police refused to confirm names, saying only “arrests are taking place” and adding that the operation was being run by officers from the financial crimes unit.

“We are in the process of carrying out an operation right now with agents of the financial crimes unit,” the police spokesman told AFP.

According to reports in the Spanish media, the operation is linked to last year's investigation into the 'BarçaGate' scandal, which saw the club deny hiring a company to criticise current and former players on social media to improve the image of the then-president Bartomeu.

Cadena Ser said Barca paid €1 million in six separate invoices to the company I3 Ventures, with whom the club have since cut ties.

Bartomeu resigned in October, after mounting pressure following months of controversy and a dramatic decline in performances on the pitch.

His successor is due to be elected on Sunday, when club members will choose between the final three candidates, Joan Laporta, Toni Freixa and Victor Font.