Odebrecht Denies $100 Million Bribe to Top Venezuelan Politician

The company refuted accusations that it had made a payment of $USD100 million to top Venezuelan politician Diosdado Cabello after conducting a review of its records.

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Odebrecht is at the centre of a region-wide corruption scandal. (Archive)
Odebrecht is at the centre of a region-wide corruption scandal. (Archive)
By RACHAEL BOOTHROYD ROJAS
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Bogota, September 8 2017, (venezuelanalysis.com) - The scandal-besieged company Odebrecht has refuted claims made by former Venezuelan Attorney General Luisa Ortega that it paid $USD100 million to Venezuelan politician Diosdado Cabello in exchange for lucrative state contracts. 

The accusations against Cabello, who is the President of the United Socialist Party of Venezuela and is considered one of the most prominent members of the Chavista government, were made by Ortega in August. The former attorney general fled Venezuela last month after the Supreme Court removed her from her post pending an investigation into alleged “grave misconduct”.

In a widely reported press conference, Ortega said she had “many pieces of evidence” that proved the firm had made the million dollar payment to Cabello. But a statement released by the company Wednesday appeared to cast doubt on Ortega’s claims. 

"After conducting a comprehensive search of its legacy systems and of the statements given by its former team members who collaborated in (investigations), Odebrecht denies the accusations that it made a $100 million payment to ... Cabello,” reads the communiqué. 

The leading Brazilian construction firm shot to the centre of a region-wide corruption scandal in 2015, when it emerged that company representatives had offered million dollar kickbacks to government officials across 12 countries to win public contracts. The firm agreed to cooperate with US authorities last year as part of a deal with US and Brazilian prosecutors.  

As well as implicating Cabello in the scandal, Ortega told press that Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro was also involved in the extensive corruption racket - though she has provided no proof to date. The former attorney general publicly broke with the Maduro administration earlier in March, leading to a heated stand-off played out in national and international media. 

For its part the Venezuelan government announced in August that it would launch a probe into the Public Prosecution's handling of financial crimes during Ortega’s ten year term in response to her accusations. Her replacement, Tarek William Saab, accuses her of having “buried” cases of corruption throughout her tenure.