Colombia’s prosecution has found that the Brazilian engineering firm spent $32.5 million on bribes in Colombia, according to the country’s chief prosecutor.
Prosecutor General Nestor Humberto Martinez said last year that his office had evidence that the disgraced company spent $27 million on bribes in Colombia.
In an interview with Bloomberg, Martinez said that the corruption of the company he used to work for has led to the indictment of almost three dozen people and five convictions, including those of a former senator and a former vice-minister.
The former election campaigns of former President Juan Manuel Santos and his then-opponent Oscar Ivan Zuluaga are still under investigation for allegedly receiving illegal contributions from the company.
Odebrecht has admitted in US courts to spending more than $788 million in 12 countries in Latin America and Africa.
According to Martinez, his office’s investigations have been slowed down because Brazilian authorities have refused to share evidence after the chief prosecutor rejected the condition that neither Odebrecht nor its executives could be implicated, according to Bloomberg.
The chief prosecutor rejected accusations of conflict of interest; he was one the attorneys of the Odebrecht-led consortium that bid for the so-called Ruta del Sol highway. He signed off on the corruption-ridden project in 2014 after Santos appointed him Minister for the Presidency.
Martinez told Bloomberg he recused himself on two occasions when the Odebrecht case came across his desk.
According to vice-Prosecutor General Maria Paulina Riveros, the investigation into Odebrecht’s corruption practices in Colombia is in its final phase and could be finished before the end of this year.
Pending doubts about Martinez’s own involvement both as Odebrecht’s attorney and the government official who signed off on the project he had helped set up are likely to remain.
Opposition Senator Jorge Robledo of the socialist Democratic Pole party has been calling for the chief prosecutor’s resignation, mainly because of Martinez’ failure to recuse himself when as minister he approved the project he had helped consolidate as the company’s legal adviser.
Questions remain about whether Colombia’s richest man, Luis Carlos Sarmiento, will be investigated. He has been working with Martinez’ law firm since before both got involved in the disgraced Odebrecht deal, but has successfully stayed in the shadows.
Also President Ivan Duque, who met with Odebrecht’s political adviser Jose Eduardo Cavalcanti in Sao Paulo three months before the corrupted 2014 elections, has not been included in any criminal investigation.