Tag Archives: Odebrecht

Brazilian weekly says Lula lobbied for Odebrecht in Cuba


A Brazilian news magazine has accused former president Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva of acting as lobbyist in Cuba for Brazil’s largest engineering firm Odebrecht, which built the container terminal at the Cuban port of Mariel.
In this week’s edition headlined “Our man in Havana,” Epoca magazine cited Brazilian diplomatic cables about visits to Cuba by Lula after he had left office. During those visits he sought to further Brazilian business interests on the island, it said.
One cable from 2014 reported on a meeting in Havana at which Lula discussed with Odebrecht executives how to secure Cuban guarantees for loans from Brazilian state development bank BNDES to finance new projects sought by Odebrecht in Cuba.
Lula’s foundation called the Epoca story “offensive” and “malicious” and “criminal manipulation” of government documents.
“These are normal activities. The ex-president did nothing illegal and was discussing sovereign guarantees for loans to Cuba in a meeting where a diplomat was present,” said Jose Chrispiniano, a spokesman for the Lula Institute.
Lula is under investigation for improperly using his influence to benefit Odebrecht, whose billionaire chief executive Marcelo Odebrecht was arrested in June in connection with the massive bribery and political kickback scandal focused on state-run oil company Petroleo Brasileiro SA.
Prosecutors say Lula frequently traveled abroad at Odebrecht’s expense after leaving office, from 2011 until 2014.
The inquiry puts the legacy of one of Brazil’s most popular former leaders on the line at a time when some are calling for the impeachment of his chosen successor, President Dilma Rousseff, for alleged campaign finance irregularities.
Epoca, owned by the Globo media group, said Lula lobbied to get Cuba good terms for a $682 million loan from BNDES that went to finance the Mariel port project built by Odebrecht.
The Lula Institute said that, by the time Lula visited Cuba in 2011, the loan for Mariel had been approved two years earlier in contracts “that no alleged lobbyist could alter.”
Lula, founder of the ruling Workers’ Party, said in a radio interview on Friday he could run again for the presidency in 2018 to prevent his opponents winning the elections.
While still an influential politician, Lula’s popularity has been hurt by the arrest on corruption charges of his former chief of staff and the treasurer of his party. Recent polls show the leftist leader would be defeated if he ran again.


CEO of the Brazilian company that built the port of Mariel was arrested on corruption charges

The CEO of Odebrecht, the company that built the port of Mariel in Cuba at a cost of $800 million and is currently involved in a $207 million expansion project at José Martí Airport in Havana, was arrested today in Brazil on corruption charges:

From Reuters:

Brazilian police on Friday arrested Marcelo Odebrecht, the head of Latin America’s largest engineering and construction company Odebrecht SA, local media said, pulling the most high-profile executive into the corruption investigation at state-run oil firm Petrobras.
Federal officers had orders to arrest a total of 12 people in four states and bring them to the southern city of Curitiba where the investigation is based, according to a federal police statement that did not give the names of the detained.
Odebrecht, which has 200,000 workers and a presence in 21 countries, said in a statement police had raided its offices in Sao Paulo and Rio de Janeiro and made arrests, but did not confirm any names. The company said the arrests were “unnecessary” because it was collaborating with investigators.
Local media also said Otavio Marques Azevedo, head of another large Brazilian contractor Andrade Gutierrez, was among those arrested. Andrade Gutierrez did not confirm the arrest in a statement but said it was collaborating with the investigation.
Neither Azevedo nor Odebrecht have been formally charged, prosecutors said.
The arrests were widely expected as the companies are already being investigated by the country’s comptroller general for participating in an alleged cartel of construction firms thought to have overcharged Petrobras and passed on the excess as bribes to executives and politicians.
But putting an executive as powerful and well connected as Marcelo Odebrecht behind bars is a significant development in a country where the wealthy have long been thought to enjoy impunity.
The 46-year-old Odebrecht is the third generation leader of the privately held company.
The so-called “Lava Jato” probe, centered on Petroleo Brasileiro SA, as the oil major is formally known, has led to the indictments of more than 100 people and implicated dozens of politicians, most of them from President Dilma Rousseff’s Workers’ Party.
Rousseff has denied knowledge of the corruption scandal and urged a thorough investigation.