HomeNewsBriefVenezuela President Traded Contracts for Campaign Cash From Odebrecht

Venezuela President Traded Contracts for Campaign Cash From Odebrecht


New evidence suggests Venezuela President Nicolás Maduro gave multimillion-dollar public contracts to Brazilian construction giant Odebrecht in exchange for millions of dollars in campaign funds, another indication of the massive scale of the graft the company engaged in with the complicity of Latin American elites.

According to documents and witness testimony obtained by the Brazilian news outlet Estadão, Maduro awarded more than $4 billion to the Brazilian construction conglomerate Odebrecht for public works projects that were ultimately never finished in exchange for $35 million in donations for his 2013 presidential campaign. According to Estadão, Maduro's signature appears on documents providing hard evidence of this corrupt relationship.

Estadão reported that Maduro was the one to initiate contact with Odebrecht. In testimony given to federal prosecutors in Brazil, Euzenando Azevedo, Odebrecht's former top official in Venezuela, reportedly stated that Maduro's campaign manager Américo Mata approached him asking for $50 million to support Maduro's 2013 run. Azevedo reportedly agreed to pay $35 million in contributions, and conditioned the funding on the Venezuelan government's release of regular payments to Odebrecht related to public works projects.

SEE ALSO: Venezuela News and Profiles

Maduro allegedly gave “priority” to the millions of dollars needed to cover the public projects just one month after taking office, according to Estadão. In the wake of falling oil prices and persistent economic mismanagement, some state contractors in Venezuela weren't getting paid on time or at all. Odebrecht's bribes to Maduro were apparently aimed at putting the company at the front of the line.

The multimillion-dollar projects given to Odebrecht included upgrading and expanding certain parts of public transportation systems in the capital city of Caracas, and making improvements to existing roads and other infrastructure.

However, many of these projects never progressed. As of May 2017, 23 of the 32 multimillion-dollar projects awarded to Odebrecht in Venezuela were either stalled or unfinished. According to Reuters, the project involving Caracas’ metro system, which started in 2007 and was expected to be completed by 2011, is just 23 percent finished.

As InSight Crime previously reported, delays in construction and associated surcharges were part of the company's modus operandi and a broader scheme used throughout the region to increase its illicitly earned profits.

Odebrecht is at the heart of Latin America’s biggest ongoing corruption scandal and spent hundreds of millions of dollars in bribes across the region in order to secure public works contracts. The $98 million that Odebrecht reportedly paid in bribes to officials in Venezuela was the highest amount paid to any Latin American government outside of Brazil, according to a US Justice Department tally.

InSight Crime Analysis

The revelations about the relationship between Odebrecht and the Maduro administration in Venezuela provide another stark example of how the company abetted huge graft schemes involving some of the region's most criminalized governments.

The Maduro administration has deepened already widespread corruption among top echelons of Venezuela's government. A slew of top officials, including Maduro and his vice president, Tareck El Aissami, have been sanctioned by the United States based on allegations of human rights abuses and criminality.

SEE ALSO: InDepth Coverage of Elites and Organized Crime

At the same time, it's unlikely that Maduro will be ousted by the accusations regarding his relationship with Odebrecht, given the way his administration has consolidated political power and control in Venezuela.

The Odebrecht corruption scandal has also hit elites in other countries in Latin America. Peruvian President Pedro Pablo Kuczynski recently became the first sitting Latin American head of state to resign as a result of the scandal. Ecuadorean Vice President Jorge Glas, Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto and several top officials from the Dominican Republic, among others, have also been embroiled in the scandal.

share icon icon icon

Was this content helpful?

We want to sustain Latin America’s largest organized crime database, but in order to do so, we need resources.


What are your thoughts? Click here to send InSight Crime your comments.

We encourage readers to copy and distribute our work for non-commercial purposes, with attribution to InSight Crime in the byline and links to the original at both the top and bottom of the article. Check the Creative Commons website for more details of how to share our work, and please send us an email if you use an article.

Was this content helpful?

We want to sustain Latin America’s largest organized crime database, but in order to do so, we need resources.


Related Content


High-ranking officials in the Dominican Republic are accused of siphoning millions of dollars in state funds through a religious non-profit,…


With his leading opponent under house arrest for money laundering charges, Nicaragua President Daniel Ortega appears to be weaponizing the…

BAGDAD / 9 SEP 2021

As Panama struggles to contain an ever-growing flow of cocaine, a recent operation has revealed the extent to which officials…

About InSight Crime


Extensive Coverage of our Chronicles of a Cartel Bodyguard

23 SEP 2022

Our recent investigation, A Cartel Bodyguard in Mexico’s 'Hot Land', has received extensive media coverage.


InSight Crime, American University Host Illegal Fishing Panel

19 SEP 2022

InSight Crime and the Center for Latin American & Latino Studies (CLALS) at American University discussed the findings of a joint investigation on IUU fishing at a September 9 conference.


Impact on the Media Landscape

9 SEP 2022

InSight Crime’s first investigation on the Dominican Republic made an immediate impact on the Dominican media landscape, with major news outlets republishing and reprinting our findings, including in …


InSight Crime Sharpens Its Skills

2 SEP 2022

Last week, the InSight Crime team gathered for our annual retreat in Colombia, where we discussed our vision and strategy for the next 12 months.  During the week, we also learned how to…


Colombia’s Fragile Path to Peace Begins to Take Shape

26 AUG 2022

InSight Crime is charting the progress of President Gustavo Petro’s agenda as he looks to revolutionize Colombia’s security policy, opening dialogue with guerrillas, reforming the military and police, and…