By Lise Alves, Senior Contributing Reporter
SÃO PAULO, BRAZIL – Tension is high in Brazil’s capital, Brasilia, as close to eighty executives from the Odebrecht Group are expected to sign, starting Thursday, November 24th, plea bargaining agreements related to the Operação Lava Jato (Car Wash Operation) scandal. According to local news outlets, the agreements could include the incrimination of as many as two hundred politicians from all political parties for corruption graft.
“I believe that Congress will be shaken up,” Chamber Representative Alessandro Molon told Globonews late on Wednesday, November 23rd. “There is great tension here in the Chamber, much apprehension, and [the plea bargains] has affected some of the Chamber’s voting schedule.”
One of the most anticipated agreements will be that of the former CEO, who headed the family business, Marcelo Odebrecht. The executive, in jail since June of 2015, has been sentenced to nineteen years and four months in prison for crimes of passive corruption, criminal association and money laundering in the Lava Jato scandal.
Marcelo Odebrecht’s name has been linked to bribes allegedly paid to former President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva and former Chief of Staff under impeached President Dilma Rousseff, Antonio Palocci. Odebrecht executives and mid-level managers are expected to disclose the names of politicians and Petrobras employees who received bribes to help the construction conglomerate win million-dollar contracts.
Due to the number of executives signing individual leniency agreements, the conclusion of the plea agreement statements should take more than a month. Negotiations between Odebrecht employees and Brazil’s Federal Prosecutor’s Office for these plea agreements took eight months. The fines to be paid in the plea bargaining agreements are said to be the largest in the world, totaling R$7 billion (US$2.5 billion).
The issue of how much of the fine will be paid to Brazilian authorities and how much will go to the United States and Switzerland, however, needs to be resolved. The two foreign countries are also seeking restitution claiming the mega construction company also committed crimes on their soil.