Petrobras corruption firms pay CHF200 million penalty

Oil company Petrobras, partly owned by the Brazilian state, is at the centre of a huge corruption scandal Keystone

Three Brazilian companies have been ordered to pay over CHF200 million ($194 million) in penalties to Switzerland for their part in the Petrobras money laundering and corruption scandal.

This content was published on December 21, 2016 - 19:56

The penalties were levied on Brazilian construction firm Odebrecht, its subsidiary Construtora Norberto Odebrecht (CNO) and affiliated petrochemical company Braskem as part of a combined prosecution between the Swiss Attorney General and its counterparts in the United States and Brazil.

The three companies were involved in a money laundering network that funneled millions of dollars in bribe money through hundreds of Swiss bank accounts, which ended up in the pockets of Brazilian politicians and executives at Brazil’s state oil company.

The ongoing Petrobras case is one of the worst corruption scandals in Brazilian corporate history.

Braskem will pay CHF94.5 million in compensation, despite Switzerland dropping its case to hand over the prosecution to the US authorities, the Swiss Attorney General said in a statement on Wednesday. Odebrecht and CNO were fined CHF4.5 million and ordered to pay additional forfeited funds, compensation and procedural costs – a total bill of CHF117 million.

The total penalty levied by all three prosecuting authorities adds up to some $2 billion (CHF2.06 billion), split between the three countries.

The prosecution “marks a further milestone in the international battle against corruption”, the Swiss Attorney General’s office stated. It added that “investigations in the overall context of Petrobras and Odebrecht will continue, irrespective of the conclusion of the proceedings relating specifically to Odebrecht SA and its subsidiaries".

Switzerland’s state prosecutor has opened 60 criminal investigations into the Petrobras scandal. It has frozen around $800 million in assets stashed in Swiss accounts, and released some $190 million to the Brazilian authorities.

Switzerland has also agreed to share Swiss bank account documents of Brazilian politicians and company executives with Brazil.

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