Prosecutors from 11 countries have met to coordinate their response to the Odebrecht corruption case, in an unusually strong showing of multilateral cooperation that is a positive sign for the multiple investigations' chances of uncovering the company's collaborators.
On February 16, officials from ten Latin American countries and Portugal met in Brazil to exchange information and discuss investigations into the Brazilian construction company Odebrecht, which has admitted to paying out nearly $800 million in bribes, as well as Brazil's "Lava Jato" (Car Wash) corruption scandal.
The prosecutors ended the conference by putting out a joint statement committing to organizing bilateral and multilateral investigation teams to work the cases, reported La República. The statement also declared the different countries would make international judicial cooperation broader, quicker and more efficient and would also work together on recuperating the illegal funds involved.
The investigation, meanwhile, which has already embroiled top business and political figures in Peru, Colombia, and Argentina among others, continues to broaden.
This week has seen Peru's ombudsman call for investigations into Grana, Peru's biggest engineering conglomerate and Odebrecht's most important partner in the country. And the Colombian holding company Corficolombiana has requested official recognition as Odebrecht victims after denying all knowledge of the bribes the company was paying out, according to reports in Reuters.
InSight Crime Analysis
Corruption and bribery was a core part of Odebrecht's business model in the many countries in which they operated, and their collaborators can be found throughout the political and business elites of Latin America.
Given the transnational nature of the company's bribery network, it is an encouraging sign that the principal countries involved are cooperating to uncover who these collaborators are and what their role in the racket was. Such cooperation increases the chances of successful prosecutions while helping generate a more complete picture of the international flows of bribes -- and the money laundering schemes that concealed them.
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Investigations such as those into Odebrecht and the Lava Jato investigation have the potential to illustrate just how widespread corruption is in the region and how high it reaches, and the multilateral cooperation significantly increases their chances of success.