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AMLO's upcoming administration will shut out Odebrecht
The scandal surrounding Odebrecht, which investigators began uncovering in 2014, led to the firm paying $3.5 billion in settlements in the United States, Brazil and Switzerland - Photo: Juan Carlos Reyes García/EL UNIVERSAL

AMLO's upcoming administration will shut out Odebrecht

01/09/2018
11:44
Newsroom
Mexico City
Diego Oré (REUTERS)
-A +A
The corrupt construction company from Brazil will not participate in public works, Jiménez Espriú said

Odebrecht, the Brazilian construction company, which is currently at the center of a far-reaching Latin American bribery scandal, may be blocked from participating in public works projects under the next Mexican government, incoming administration officials said.

The outgoing government of President Enrique Peña Nieto has faced criticism for not bringing charges against Odebrecht (ODBES.UL), even though the company told U.S. and Brazilian prosecutors that it paid $10 million worth of bribes in Mexico.

The scandal surrounding Odebrecht, which investigators began uncovering in 2014, led to the firm paying $3.5 billion in settlements in the United States, Brazil and Switzerland.

“Odebrecht certainly will not have any invitation to participate in public works (in Mexico),” incoming communications and transportation minister Javier Jiménez Espriú said in an interview on Wednesday, vowing “zero tolerance” on corruption.

Odebrecht’s Mexico unit declined to comment. Its head office in Sao Paulo did not respond to a request for comment.

Incoming president Andrés Manuel López Obrador, who takes office in December, spent years railing against corruption in Mexico and vowed to clean up government if elected.

Mexico banned Odebrecht in December for bidding for federal public contracts for four years after finding that an affiliate had made an “incorrect charge” of $6.20 million in a contract with state oil company PEMEX.

In April, it banned federal and state agencies from working with the firm until 2020 and fined Odebrecht $60 million. The government said the decision related to probes into suspected corruption in Odebrecht’s business with PEMEX.

Peña Nieto’s administration has been rocked by a series of corruption scandals. Emilio Lozoya, the man he first appointed to run PEMEX, was linked last year to the Odebrecht payments scandal by media investigations in Brazil and Mexico.

Lozoya has denied any wrongdoing. Mexico’s attorney general launched a probe into the Odebrecht case, which concluded last year. The findings have not been made public.

Irma Sandoval, the next head of the Public Administration Ministry, which imposed the bans on Odebrecht, said on Thursday that López Obrador’s government may prohibit the company from making public bids, without providing details.

“We’re considering prohibiting the participation of future bids from corrupt companies like Braskem, Odebrecht and many more,” she told Reuters in an interview.

Brazilian petrochemical firm Braskem (BRKM5.SA) pleaded guilty to a conspiracy charge over a scheme involving Odebrecht and was sentenced to pay a $632.6 million criminal fine.

“The (government) and Mr. López Obrador will establish specific norms so the corrupt are shut out,” Sandoval said.
 

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