7 Latin American nations request info on Brazil graft probe

AP News
Posted: Apr 27, 2017 1:37 PM

SAO PAULO (AP) — Seven Latin American countries are asking Brazil to share information on the dozens of plea bargains made by executives of Brazilian construction company Odebrecht, and many more could follow soon, a Brazilian prosecutor said Thursday.

Odebrecht was one of the companies at the center of a kickback scheme involving state oil company Petrobras.

Vladimir Aras, the head of international cooperation at the attorney general's office, told The Associated Press that Mexico, Argentina, Venezuela, Colombia, Peru, Ecuador and the Dominican Republic have made 19 requests related to the case so far.

Revelations from the Odebrecht plea bargain deals have rocked Brazilian politics in recent weeks. Hundreds of hours of video testimony has implicated President Michel Temer and hundreds of other politicians in corruption and illegal campaign financing accusations.

The corruption unmasked by the so-called Car Wash investigation has shocked Brazilians for both the vast amounts that traded hands and the way in which it has spared no party.

"We will have even a higher number of requests for information coming Latin American countries, African nations and the United States...," Aras said. "We have prosecutors telling us that more requests are about to come."

So far Peru is the country that made most requests for information, with nine so far, Aras said.

Dozens of plea bargain testimonies of current and former executives of Odebrecht caused alarm in Brazilian politics over the last two weeks, with investigations reaching eight government ministers, twelve governors, hundreds of public officials and lawmakers and all of the country's five living former presidents.

"This has been going for 30 years," company CEO Emilio Odebrecht said in one of the 1,000 videos released by Brazil's top court. "At some point it became a normal thing to pay all these people."

Prosecutor Aras said other Latin American countries are being inspired by the Brazilian probe and have adopted plea bargains to fight corruption at home too. He also said international treaties with the U.S. and Switzerland were also key for the investigations to reach so high up.

"Without these deals it wouldn't be possible to get evidence abroad, that's one of the big reasons why this investigation is so important, he said.