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The authorities in Brazil have uncovered US$3.75mn in illegal payments that disgraced Brazilian construction firm Odebrecht transferred to a shell company in Mexico's Veracruz state in 2010, according to civil society group Mexicanos Contra la Corrupción y la Impunidad (MCCI).
The MCCI - an organization that investigates corruption cases involving Mexican public officials - had access to documents from the Brazilian prosecution file as part of the Investiga Lava Jato investigation by journalists from Latin America and Africa. Investiga Lava Jato is a multinational effort to review and share information about the largest corruption probe ever carried out in South America.
Based on the documents, Odebrecht used two offshore companies to make six wire transfers from August 2010-February 2011 to the Blunderbuss Company, which is a Veracruz-based firm created in 2008 that does not have any identifiable assets.
The offshore companies were used by Odebrecht to make bribe payments and illegal contributions to political campaigns in different Latin American countries, according to the Brazilian probe.
The Veracruz company is registered under the name of an insurance sales agent and a former gas station employee, who according to MCCI belong to a network of front men linked to former Veracruz governor Javier Duarte. Duarte is currently detained in Guatemala awaiting extradition to face charges of organized crime and embezzlement in Mexico.
The MCCI noted that the first transfer was made just one month into Duarte's administration, when Odebrecht was involved in a project to modernize a refinery in the city of Minatitlán and the building of the Etileno XXI petrochemical complex in Coatzacoalcos.
The files do not mention whether the money transfers are part of the US$10.5mn that Odebrecht admitted to have paid to Mexican officials in exchange for public works contracts, the MCCI added.
To access to the investigation (in Spanish), click here
The MCCI published another report last week about Odebrecht allegedly making illegal payments related to the construction of the Francisco J. Múgica dam in Mexico's Michoacán state.