Odebrecht pulls out of Panama bridge scheme amid bribery probe

Brazil’s largest construction firm Odebrecht has withdrawn its bid to build a bridge over the Panama canal after prosecutors in Panama last week charged 17 people, including several businessmen and former government officials, with money laundering in its bribery case against Odebrecht SA.

Panama’s President Juan Carlos Varela announced Odebrecht’s pull-out via Twitter yesterday.

Odebrecht is at the centre of a growing corruption scandal in Latin America and has acknowledged distributing hundreds of millions of dollars in bribes across the region, Reuters reports.

Under Panama’s former president Ricardo Martinelli Odebrecht was a favoured contractor for government schemes, and verbally agreed this month to pay $59m in reparations for bribes there between 2010 in 2014, Reuters reported.

The former president is also under investigation for corruption, and is living in the United States.

According to Reuters, the Panamanian government said last month it would cancel a contract given to Odebrecht to build a $1bn hydroelectric plant, and would seek to exclude it from new tenders.

Odebrecht is carrying out several projects in the country valued at over $ 3.3bn, Reuters reported, including the expansion of Panama City’s airport and the construction of a separate metro line.

Image via Odebrecht

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