By NAN Staff Writer
News Americas, NEW YORK, NY, Mon. June 5, 2017: Prosecutors in Argentina want information on bank accounts held by Brazilian construction giant, Odebrecht SA, in a Caribbean island as they continue investigating more evidence of bribes paid by Odebrecht in Argentina.
According to Bloomberg News reports, Argentinean prosecutors want information on Odebrecht SA’s account at the Meinl Bank in the Caribbean nation of Antigua & Barbuda, as they investigate potential kickbacks in the construction of an underground railway between Buenos Aires city and the province.
Argentina made its request to Antigua’s foreign ministry under a treaty between the two countries that allows for sharing of information in criminal cases, Anthony Armstrong, Antigua’s director of public prosecutions told Bloomberg.
He told Bloomberg News he’s been working for more than two months to collect the information but that the task is laborious because it requires getting court orders to secure records of transactions and other confidential information, as well as to freeze accounts.
The St. John’s, Antigua Meinl Bank was part of a vast bribery network that the Brazilian construction company has admitted to operating for more than a decade across Latin America, according to Bloomberg. Odebrecht allegedly acquired Meinl Bank Antigua Limited, exclusively to launder funds. Vinicius Veiga Borin, a whistle-blower, has said he and executives within Odebrecht collaborated to take control of Meinl Bank Antigua in late 2010. Borin says he worked at the now defunct Antigua Overseas Bank and says he, other former employees, and two central executives of Odebrecht collaborated to acquire Meinl Bank Antigua.
Accounts at the bank were used to funnel part of $788 million worth of kickbacks to politicians, business executives and regulators around the world, Odebrecht, a Brazilian conglomerate consisting of diversified businesses in the fields of engineering, construction, chemicals and petrochemicals, admitted in a U.S. criminal court.
In February this year, the Antigua and Barbuda Financial Services Regulatory Commission, removed three of the directors from the board of Meinl Bank (Antigua) Ltd and appointed Cleveland Seaforth, managing partner, KPMG Eastern Caribbean, as the official administrator of the bank.
In Argentina alone, Odebrecht admitted to paying $35 million in bribes between 2007 and 2014, according to its December guilt plea in the U.S. case. Details about those payments have the potential to help incriminate members of former President Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner’s government, as well as allies of President Mauricio Macri.
In Brazil, Odebrecht has been implicated as the principle actor in providing hundreds of millions of dollars to executives of the state owned oil company Petrobras.
Petrobras sits at the center of the ongoing corruption scandal that has seen Brazil’s former President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva arrested and its current president Dilma Rousseff suspended from office.
More than 50 major politicians are being investigated and scores of businessmen have been arrested.