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US court fines Brazil's Odebrecht US$2.6b over bribes
[NEW YORK] A federal court in New York on Monday imposed a US$2.6 billion fine on Brazil's scandal-plagued construction giant Odebrecht, part of what US authorities describe as a one of the largest-ever corporate settlements for international bribery.
Odebrecht and the petrochemical affiliate Braskem had in December already agreed to pay a total of US$3.5 billion to settle the case, in which the companies admitted to paying nearly US$800 million in bribes to government officials and political parties to win business on three continents.
US District Judge Raymond Dearie in Brooklyn ordered Odebrecht to pay a total of US$2.6 billion, with US$93 million going to the United States, US$116 million to Switzerland and the remainder to authorities in Brazil.
The December plea agreement had sought to impose a far steeper US$4.5 billion but this amount was reduced because Odebrecht was not able to pay it. As part of the agreement, Braskem agreed to pay US$957 million.
Brazilian investigators say Odebrecht was one of the ringleaders of a scheme to plunder billions of dollars from state oil company Petrobras. The scandal has rocked Brazil's political and business establishment.