Brazil and Argentina have come to an agreement that gives the Argentine judiciary system access to information and confessions made by Brazilian construction, engineering and chemical conglomerate Odebrecht’s ex-officials.
Brazil’s Public Prosecutor’s Office (MFP) released a statement on July 16 stating that Argentina will have access to information in order to help them accuse Argentinians involved in irregularities with Odebrecht. The Brazilian company has been involved in various corruption scandals and in Argentina stands accused of paying bribes to Argentine officials in exchange for public work contracts.
Marcelo Odebrecht has confessed to paying at least US $59 million to Argentine officials for the tunneling of the Sarmiento train, the extension of gas pipeline networks and the construction of a water-purification plant.
The objective of the recently-established agreement was for the two countries to come to an accord about the terms of judicial cooperation, and took six months to complete. This is due in part to Argentina’s resistance in conceding immunity to informants in exchange for their information. The MFP credited the Secretary for International Cooperation (SCI) for helping the two countries see eye to eye on this point.
“This is a huge step forward in the relationship of international legal cooperation between the two countries and another big step in the fight against corruption,” said Cristina Romanó, head of the SCI.
Although Brazil have released the details of the agreement – apart from some details that remain unpublished due to privacy issues- La Nacion reported that Argentina have been more reserved about announcing the agreement.
“We are very close, but we still need to close some details and finalise some queries,” said a spokesperson from Argentina’s Public Prosecution.
As part of the agreement, Brazil will send Argentina documents with information from Odebrecht executives disclosing which Argentinians were bribed. Argentine lawyers will also have access to confessions made by Marcelo Odebrecht himself, along with other highly-placed ex-Odebrecht officials such as Luiz Antonio Mameri and Mario Faria.
In return, Argentina has vowed not to prosecute or penalise the Brazilians who inform on those involved, under the assumption that justice is already being served by Brazil’s justice system. The agreement also involves a compromise with local authorities who will, in turn, not use the information given by the Brazilian collaborators against them.
The agreement forms part of the Lava Jato (car wash) operation, which has been investigating corruption and money-laundering since 2014. Odebrecht is one of the main companies implicated in the Lava Jato operation, which continues to show no signs of coming to an end.