Latin America’s premier construction firm Odebrecht has defended itself in response to the Brazil Public Prosecutor’s Office (abbreviated to MP in Portuguese) demand for huge damages from the firm in relation to the Petrobras scandal, according to Reuters.
Odebrecht, a Brazilian firm, is the biggest single contractor implicated in the bribes-for-inflated contracts scheme that has seen a great undoing of the state oil firm Petrobras – which has massive offshore oil and gas interests – plus the shaming and jailing of industry executives and high-level politicians.
MP cited 12 instances in which it accused the two companies of misconduct and called for around US$2bn in damages.
The amount broke down as US$145m in the value of the contracts, US$400m in civil penalties, and US$1.4bn in collective moral damages.
Odebrecht hit back by claiming that in most of the alleged cases it never signed contracts directly with Petrobras but only through consortia, and also that the amounts mentioned by MP are disproportionate and inconsistent.
The latest developments are further signals that nothing and nobody are off limits to Brazil’s prosecutors and judges.
Among those already been in their sights regarding the scandal are some of the country’s high and mighty.
Last Tuesday former head of Odebrecht, Marcelo Odebrecht, received a jail term of 19 years and four months along with two other senior executives of the firm.
And two days after that the former national president Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, known as Lula, was charged with money laundering and misrepresentation.
Current national president Dilma Rousseff, formerly chairperson of Petrobras, has suffered terrible dents to her image because of the scandal. Her popularity has dipped to the single digits in polls and big street protests have called for her impeachment.