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Petrobas Investigation Leads To Arrest Of Powerful CEO
By Samuel Malik
The investigation into corrupt practices in Brazil’s state-run oil company, Petrobras, has led to the biggest ever arrest of an executive in a scandal involving $2.1 billion paid in bribes, according to Reuters.
Marcelo Odebrecht, the head of Odebrecht SA, Latin America’s biggest engineering and construction company, with presence in 21 countries, including in Africa, was arrested on Friday, raising hopes that the mighty may not be immune to prosecution.
The arrests also saw Otavio Marques, the head of Brazil’s second-biggest construction company, Andrade Guitierrez, and 10 others.
Some companies and individuals are suspected of overcharging Petrobras for work done, with the excess money allegedly finding its way to company executives and politicians, among who are members of President Dilma Rouseff’s ruling Workers’ Party. Investigation has indicted more than 100 people, several politicians and companies.
“The objective of the operation is to bring a clear message that the law applies to everyone, no matter the size of the company, its place in society or its economic power,” Reuters quoted federal police agent, Igor Romario de Paula., as saying.
The investigation, which also involves former president Luiz Inacio Lula de Silva, who is under probe to determine if he favoured Odebrecht while in office, has not implicated Rouseff, who chaired Petrobras board during de Silva’s presidency.
The probe has been linked to Brazil’s drift into recession as a result of the companies fingered prevented from doing business with Petrobras since 2014.
Odebrecht, 46, is the third generation leader of the private company that has over 200, 000 staff and lucrative contracts in several countries, particularly in Latin America.