Brazilian company Odebrecht admitted to paying bribes, a total of US $35 Million in Argentina alone, in exchange for state contracts. Now, in an attempt to clean up, they are selling off their shares in the project to get the Sarmiento Train Line underground to the Italian company Ghella.
In the past, Odebrecht has been awarded several public work projects in exchange for the payoffs the offered, and the Sarmiento train line underground was no exception. The company’s participation in the project began in May 2006, under Former President Cristina Kirchner’s government, and has leaked on over to haunt the current administration.
The Sarmiento infrastructure project is currently the largest underway in the country. Its budget adds up to US$ 3 billion. But now that the company’s bribery has gone public, Odebrecht has decided to step down and sell off its connection to the Sarmiento project. However, it has been confirmed that Odebrecht’s outing does not exempt the company from any legal responsibilities.
Everything is in place to sell Odebrecht’s ownership of the consortium, a total of 33 percent, to the Italian firm Ghella.
By buying off Odebrecht’s shares, Ghella will be responsible for undertaking 70 percent of the project. In charge of the rest will be Sacde, Argentine company who kept the shares of IECSA, the company formerly owned by President Mauricio Macri’s cousin, Ángelo Calcaterra.
The decision will be formalized by the National Government in the next 30 days, until then, all shares will remain as they were before the arrangement. Prospects seem positive, as the government has been openly encouraging the agreement between the two companies.
Macri’s administration has decided to go public, to retaliate the suspicions raised towards the government’s involvement after the Odebrecht’s bribing habits came to light. Distrust remains strong when it comes to Odebrecht and Macri’s administration as no details have been given regarding who accepted the corrupt payments.