Here’s what’s been going on in the compliance world this week:
- Odebrecht’s bribes in Colombia three times larger than previously known: The Brazilian construction firm Odebrecht, which is embroiled in a corruption probe spanning Latin America, has paid at least USD 32.5 million in bribes in Colombia. This represents a threefold increase over the amount of bribes the company admitted to paying two years ago when it struck a plea deal with Brazilian and U.S. authorities. Odebrecht has admitted to bribing dozens of Colombian officials and executives in relation to six government contracts which it won between 2009 and 2014. Nearly three dozen people have already been convicted. Prosecutors said that Odebrecht set up shell companies that submitted invoices for work never performed and used the proceeds of those activities to pay off middlemen and expenses, and the remainder was used for bribes.
- Former Argentinian President Kirchner appears before judge in corruption probe: Cristina Kirchner, Argentina’s former president, appeared before a judge on Monday as part of a sweeping anti-corruption probe. As part of the probe, over a dozen prominent businessmen and former government officials were arrestedafter La Nacion newspaper reported that millions in bribe money were delivered to Kirchner’s residences during the presidency and that of her late husband Nestor. The driver kept detailed records of the payments, which now form the basis of the investigation. Kirchner has alleged that the case is a judicial witch-hunt aimed at preventing her from winning next year’s election. Eight business leaders have confessed and negotiated plea bargains.
- Colombia’s former head of anti-corruption pleads guilty to bribery charges: Luis Gustavo Moreno Rivera, Colombia’s former anti-corruption chief, pleaded guilty in a Miami federal court on charges of accepting thousands of dollars in bribes from a Colombian politician last year while in Miami. Moreno and his private attorney received USD 10,000 of cash stuffed in a large manila envelope in exchange for giving the politician confidential information on the politician’s corruption probe. Leonardo Luis Pinilla Gomez, the attorney, also pled guilty in court. According to Colombian news reports, Moreno cooperated with the authorities and his testimony led to the arrests of the former Supreme Court justice as well as other government officials.
- Dominican Republic holds largest anti-corruption march: Nearly a million people marched through the streets of Santo Domingo on Sunday to demand justice in relation to the corruption allegations against over a dozen current and past Dominican state officials accused of accepting at least USD 92 million in bribes from Odebrecht, the Brazilian construction firm at the heart of corruption allegations spanning the continent. The former director of the national water authority and eleven other government officials appeared in court in May 2017 over allegations they received bribes from the construction company. The protesters allege that current President Medina is protecting previous presidents Mejia and Fernandez whom they allege conducted high-level corruption schemes.
- Iran Supreme Leader approves setting up anti-corruption courts: Ayatollah Khamenei, Iran’s Supreme Leader approved a request by the judiciary to set up special courts to deal with financial crime. The courts will be directed to impose maximum sentences on “those disrupting and corrupting the economy”. These sentences can include the death penalty and all official and military personnel will be subject to the courts. The decision comes shortly after the Trump administration decided to leave the nuclear deal struck in 2015 and reimpose sanctions.