Brazilian engineering firm Odebrecht is suing Colombia over profits it lost after the multinational was caught bribing public officials, local media reported Thursday.
According to radio station Blu, the disgraced Brazilian company has sued the country before an international investment protection committee, claiming the government of President Juan Manuel Santos “illegally expropriated” concessions that allegedly were granted due to bribery.
In the lawsuit, Odebrecht admitted there had been bribery but blamed these “errors” on individual executives, Blu Radio reported.
The Brazilian firm claims that the Colombian government’s decision to nullify contracts that had been the result of corruption were in violation of the international trade agreement between Colombia and the European Union that includes investor protection clauses.
Spain claims compensation and reparation for damages caused to its investments for multiple violations of your obligations under the agreement.
Odebrecht via Blu Radio
The chief of Colombia’s legal state defense agency, Luis Guillermo Velez, said the claims were largely “unjustified, frivolous and prophylactic,” but must be attended.
Disregarding the mass bribery, Velez told the radio station that the Colombian state acted in the interest of the Colombian people.
“Faced with this, companies abusively resort to these mechanisms that are designed for other types of circumstances and times,” Velez told Blu Radio.
According to the United States Justice Department, Odebrecht paid as much as $788 million in bribes to obtain government contracts in Latin America and Africa.
Colombia’s chief prosecutor, who was Odebrecht’s legal adviser at the time of the bribery practices, said last year that the company spent $27 million in bribes in Colombia alone.
The bribery allegedly compromised the administrations of both President Juan Manuel Santos and his predecessor, former President Alvaro Uribe.
In 2014, the election campaigns of both Santos and his main rival, Oscar Ivan Zuluaga, allegedly received illegal campaign contributions from the Brazilian firm.