Swiss convict Brazilian construction giant in bribery case

Swiss prosecutors on Wednesday said they had ordered Brazilian construction giant Odebrecht and its subsidiaries to pay nearly $200 million in connection with the corruption scandal at the Petrobras state oil company.

Swiss convict Brazilian construction giant in bribery case
Photo: Yasuyoshi Chiba/AFP
Switzerland's attorney general's office (OAG) said in a statement that it had “convicted the Brazilian company Odebrecht and one of its subsidiaries of inadequate corporate organization in connection with the Petrobras affair.”
In total, the office said it was demanding payment from Odebrecht and its subsidiaries Construtora Norberto Odebrecht SA (CNO) and Braskem of over 200 million Swiss francs ($195 million, 187 million euros).
It pointed out that the penalty was “part of a coordinated conclusion to the proceedings, initiated by Switzerland and also involving Brazil and the USA”.
The OAG said that since 2014 it had been conducting around 60 criminal investigations into the massive corruption scandal rocking Petrobras, amid suspicion that huge portions of the funds scammed from the semi-state-owned Brazilian oil company were funnelled through Swiss banks.
It said its probes had enabled it to establish that “various companies in the construction industry paid bribes in order to secure contracts.”
“Investigators were able to trace the payments back, among others to Odebrecht SA and its subsidiary Construtora Norberto Odebrecht SA (CNO), which have their headquarters in Brazil,” OAG said.
It ruled that Odebrecht and CNO were “guilty of a violation of corporate criminal law” since “they did not take all reasonable organizational measures required to prevent the offences of bribing foreign public officials… and money laundering.”
Out of the 200 million-Swiss-franc sum, prosecutors ordered the two companies to pay 117 million in liabilities.
It also found that another company, Braskem, which is majority owned by Odebrect and which counts Petrobras as one of its shareholders, had “paid bribes via the same channels”.
But it said the Swiss proceedings against Braskem had been dropped — against a payment of 94.5 million Swiss francs — since that company was being prosecuted in the United States also for its actions in Switzerland.
In addition, the OAG said it had slapped the companies with a fine of 4.5 million Swiss francs.


Trial over 2006 German World Cup corruption opens in Switzerland

Three former German football officials and ex-FIFA Secretary General Urs Linsi went on trial on Monday in Switzerland over suspicions that Germany bought votes to obtain the 2006 World Cup.

Trial over 2006 German World Cup corruption opens in Switzerland

The three defendants have indicated that they will not be present at the hearing in Bellinzona for a variety of reasons, including fear of travelling because of coronavirus contagion.

Swiss Linsi, 70, former German Football Association (DFB) presidents Wolfgang Niersbach, 69, and Theo Zwanziger, 74, and 78-year-old former DFB General Secretary Horst R. Schmidt are being prosecuted for “fraud”.

They are accused by the Swiss Federal Prosecutor's Office (BA) of concealing from the DFB the true destination of a transfer of 6.7 million euros ($7.6 million today), paid in 2005 by the organising committee to former Adidas boss, the late Robert Louis-Dreyfus, via FIFA.

The case of former World Cup organising committee chairman Franz Beckenbauer is being heard separately because of the former Germany captain's poor health.

The investigation was prompted by a report in German publication Der Spiegel in 2015 that Germany had used a secret fund of 10 million Swiss francs (6.7 million euros at the time) to buy votes and obtain the rights to host the competition at the expense of South Africa.

Beckenbauer is suspected of having asked Louis-Dreyfus, to contribute to this fund shortly before the vote on the host in the summer of 2000.

Louis-Dreyfus was allegedly reimbursed by the German Football Association on the pretext of expenses related to a FIFA gala evening, which ever took place.

Zwanziger, Niersbach and Schmidt have also been charged with tax fraud in Germany and the case is expected to come to trial in the coming months. cpb/pb/td