Bogota, January 3, 2018 (venezuelanalysis.com) - The former CEO of the scandal-plagued Brazilian construction company Odebrecht has admitted to financing the Venezuelan opposition’s political campaigns, it has been revealed.
Marcelo Odebrecht, who is currently under house arrest as the region-wide corruption investigation into the company continues, said the payments were aimed at buying the opposition’s silence and support to “avoid problems in the future”.
“Our intention was to support many candidates of the opposition, even knowing that they would not be elected. We supported them in some way because the opposition can also create problems,” he said.
“The way to avoid the opposition was precisely to meet its campaign needs,” he added.
Marcelo made the statements during an interrogation by Peruvian authorities in Brazil in November. He also admitted to having funded former far-right Peruvian presidential contender Keiko Fujimori, as well as the campaigns of other former Peruvian presidents, including Alejandro Toledo, Alan García, and Ollanta Humala.
The Brazilian construction conglomerate has been under investigation for corruption since 2015, when it emerged that company representatives had offered millions of dollars in kickbacks to secure profitable public contracts across 12 countries, mostly in Latin America. At least seventy Odebrecht employees have been arrested in relation to the scandal.
According to a plea bargain agreement with U.S. authorities, Odebrecht and its representatives allegedly paid USD$98 million in bribes to Venezuelan government officials and other intermediaries between 2006 and 2015, when the company was contracted to carry out a series of state construction works by national and local governments.
In January 2017, the opposition’s former presidential candidate and then Miranda Governor Henrique Capriles Radonski was summoned for questioning before the Comptroller General’s office in relation to the scandal, but no arrest was made at the time.
Capriles has denied taking bribes from the Brazilian company, and says the investigation into his tenure as governor is politically motivated. The Comptroller General's office banned the politician from holding public office for a period fifteen years last April on the ground of alleged misconduct, though no bribery charges were brought against him.
The Odebrect scandal has also raised allegations implicating top Maduro government officials. In October, an ex-director of Odebrecht alleged during interrogation that he had donated USD$35 million to Maduro's 2013 presidential campaign, but the claim was never corroborated by other senior Odebrecht officials.
Likewise in August, former Venezuelan Attorney General Luisa Ortega accused United Socialist Party of Venezuela Vice President Diosdado Cabello of receiving US$100 million in kickbacks. Nonetheless, the allegation was later denied by Odebrecht.
In July, Venezuelan authorities summoned for questioning the wife and mother-in-law of former Transport Minister Haiman El Troudi in connection to the Odebrecht scandal.