Colombia bans Odebrecht for 10 years

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Friday, December 14, 2018

An administrative tribunal in Colombia's Cundinamarca department ruled that disgraced Brazilian engineering and construction firm Odebrecht and two of its partners in the now cancelled Ruta del Sol II highway concession will be barred from contracts with the Colombian state for 10 years and must pay over 800bn pesos (US$251mn) in compensation.

In its 300 page ruling, the court said that acts of corruption attributed to Odebrecht have been proved and that its partners in Consorcio Ruta del Sol – Estudios y Proyectos del Sol (Episol) and CSS Constructores – were "joint liabilities" and therefore also responsible for the bribes paid.

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The sentence also reached three former Odebrecht executives in Colombia, former senator Otto Bula – who's currently serving a two year jail sentence in a separate case and is considered a key lobbyist for Odebrecht – and former deputy transport minister Gabriel García, who is serving a five year sentence for accepting bribes from Odebrecht in the Ruta del Sol II probe.

The ruling also states that a committee must be created formed by the attorney general office, the prosecutor's office, the transport ministry, infrastructure agency ANI, highway authority INVIAS, the comptroller and the country's ombudsman to certify compliance with the sentence.

The court also upheld the seizure of assets, accounts and incomes of all implicated parties to guarantee payment of the compensation.

In a release, the attorney general's office said the compensation is 22 times more than the US$11mn that Odebrecht offered in exchange for a deal that would have allowed it to keep operating in Colombia.

In statements to Radio Caracol, Odebrecht's legal representatives said the company has not been notified of the sentence, but plans to appeal. RCN Radio reported that Episol is also preparing an appeal.

The full sentence can be seen here.

POTENTIALLY AFFECTED CONTRACTS

The ruling throws into question whether other ongoing contracts in which Episol and CSS are involved will also be affected by the 10-year ban.

Court magistrate Luis Lasso told RCN Radio that the government agencies that awarded the contracts will be able to decide their fate.

Episol's current projects include four 4G highway concessions, while CSS, which was already facing financial problems due to the involvement of its parent group Solarte in the Odebrecht probe, has stakes in four 4G highway concessions and is part of the consortium in charge of finishing La Línea tunnel.