Spanish courts charge FCC with corruption over Panama projects

Spain’s High Court has charged Spanish contractor FCC with corruption and money laundering in connection with metro and healthcare contracts in Panama.

The High Court said on Wednesday that FCC paid bribes amounting to €82m to obtain contracts in the central American country between 2010 and 2014. 

Yesterday FCC issued a statement saying it was fully cooperating with the investigation, and pointing out that "new controlling shareholders of FCC Group, who arrived in 2015, as well as the new Officers and Directors, have been collaborating with the competent authorities since the very moment they were aware of the above referred facts". 

The judge of the National Court of Justice, Ismael Moreno, said evidence of the investigation, corroborated by information provided by the Swiss authorities, pointed to senior executives of FCC and Odebrecht designing "a scheme of repeated corruption" which consisted of oversizing the supply of steel needed to build the Panama metro and billing it at double its price.

"In this way, funds were obtained to pay gifts to employees and political leaders of Panama. The diversion of money was done through screen companies managed by FCC and Odebrecht executives," said the court’s statement.

FCC is now controlled by Mexican tycoon Carlos Slim, who took a 25% stake in 2014 and gained control of the board in 2016.

A spokesperson for Slim’s Grupo Carso conglomerate told Reuters on Wednesday that the case related to a period before he acquired a stake in the firm. 

The bribery also took place before the present board of FCC were appointed, and the court said the managers who were alleged to have taken part in the bribes had been fired.

Image: ©GCR, illustration by Denis Carrier

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