Last Updated on Thursday, 11 December 2014, 22:54 by GxMedia
Sao Paulo, Dec 11 (EFE).- Prosecutors on Thursday formally charged a total of 35 people, including 22 executives from six of Brazil’s leading construction companies, for their alleged role in a massive kickback scandal centered on state-controlled oil giant Petrobras.
Executives with construction firms OAS, Camargo Correa, UTC, Mendes Jr., Engevix and Galvao Engenharia will face charges of corruption, money laundering and criminal conspiracy, a federal prosecutor in the southern state of Parana, Delton Dallagnol, said.
Brazil’s leading engineering companies formed a cartel to drive up the price of contracts awarded by Petrobras, he said in a press conference in Curitiba, Parana’s capital.
As part of that scheme, the companies paid kickbacks to some Petrobras executives and funneled a portion of the money from the fat contracts to Brazilian political parties.
“The companies simulated a climate of competition, defrauded the competition and, in secret meetings, determined who would win the contracts,” Dallagnol said.
Petrobras’ former downstream director, Paulo Roberto Costa, and black-market money dealer Alberto Youssef, who allegedly headed the money-laundering operation, were among those charged Thursday.
Both have provided information to prosecutors as part of plea deals.
“This was a massive corruption scheme involving corrupt companies and corrupt officials in which kickbacks were paid that ranged from between 1 percent and 5 percent of the value of each multi-million-dollar contract with Petrobras,” Dallagnol said.
“This is just the beginning of the investigation … these people stole the pride of the Brazilian people,” the country’s attorney general, Rodrigo Janot, said.
Prosecutors said they will not seek to halt the projects because such action would adversely affect the population, and instead are focused on jailing the wrongdoers and recovering money obtained illegally.
Costa recently told a congressional committee that these type of corrupt practices are widespread in the South American country.
“What happened at Petrobras is occurring all over Brazil: in (projects for) roads, railways, airports, ports and hydroelectric plants. It’s just a matter of investigating because it’s happening,” Costa said.