Justice Minister Gernán Garavano. Photo via Primera Edicion

Justice Minister Germán Garavano was in the United States yesterday. Garavano went hoping to make progress on his quest to get the US Department of Justice (DOJ) to share information about the US $35 million in bribes that Brazilian construction company Odebrecht paid in the country between 2007 and 2014 which were made in exchange for landing public works contracts. Considering the initial response following the public statements made by the officials involved in the meetings, it doesn’t look like much progress was made.

Speaking to press after meeting with his American counterpart, Jeff Sessions, Garavano said that “he [Sessions] committed to continue the collaboration between the two ministries. Specifically, we talked about Odebrecht, where we transmitted that need to have the information [concerning Argentina] be made available to us.”

Garavano went on to announce that the United States’ embassy in Argentina will bring a DOJ official on board who will be tasked with speeding up the exchange of information about issues like corruption, terrorism and drug-trafficking .

However, when specifically referring to the Odebrecht case, the minister clarified that the American judges dealing with the case will have the final word about the requests for information and that “our job is to see how we can collaborate so the information can be shared with us.”

This will most likely be a complicated task — or at the very least will take much longer than what the Argentine officials would like it to — since Garavano clarified that “the case in the United States is still ongoing.”

“Generally, the information is shared once the case is over, especially when there is classified information involved.”

Others were even less optimistic. An official who was part of the Argentine delegation explained to Ambito that the plea deal that Odebrecht representatives reached in the US has “very strict confidentiality clauses that can’t be violated so blatantly.”

“The deal could fall apart and if it does, the money [that the company committed to give back] won’t come back,” the official said.

The Argentine delegation, which also had the presence of Security Secretary Eugenio Burzaco and Interior Security Secretary Gerardo Milman, also met with other American counterparts to discuss issues such as drug-trafficking and organized crime.

Today the Argentine team plans to meet with the National Security Council’s Senior Director for the Western Hemisphere, Juan Cruz, officials from Homeland Security and the secret service to receive information regarding the organization of more high profile events, as Argentina will host this year’s World Trade Organization’s summit and the G-20 one in 2018.

The news coming from the Brazilian front is not very encouraging either. According to La Nación, Argentine judges and prosecutors involved in the cases believe that “Brazil is putting Odebrecht’s interests above its obligations to share the information” that Argentina is requesting. As a result of this, they are speeding up their own in investigation processes in the country.

Federal Judge Marcelo Martínez de Giorgi signed off on a police raid of the offices of IECSA, a company that along Odebrecht is conducting the public work to get the Sarmiento train underground yesterday. The raid’s aim is to get information that could lead to finding out the names of the public officials who received bribes from these companies throughout the years, as well as the ones of those who paid them.