A judge in Peru has ordered14 arbitrators to be jailed pending investigation into a bribery charges in a case of corruption regarding construction company Odebrecht. Each will spend 18 months in preventive detention as prosecutors investigate their role in public work contracts.
The arbitrators are being investigated for allegedly favouring construction giant Odebrecht in public-works contracts. One of the arbitrators involved has sat at the International Centre for Settlement of Investment Disputes (ICSID) Odebrecht admitted to paying almost $788m in bribes in 12 countries to win infrastructure projects in Latin America. Judge Jorge Chavez dished out the ruling for the arbitrators participation in 42 arbitration processes that earned the Brazilian conglomerate some $250m. The accusations have been rejected and the ruling is to be appealed. The ruling is part of a scandal that has drawn the past four Peruvian presidents into the investigation and have either been jailed on corruption charges or are currently under investigation for fraud. In April, former President Alan Garcia died after shooting himself as police arrived at his house to arrest him. The current President Martin Vizcarra, took office last year, has vowed to fight high-level corruption.
Odebrecht is the largest construction company in Latin America, and was founded in 1944 in northeast Brazil. The company’s former chief executive officer Marcelo Odebrecht was arrested in 2015 and later sentenced to 19 years in jail for corruption. He has been under house arrest since 2017. In 2016, Odebrecht agreed to the world's largest-ever corruption leniency fine with prosecutors in Brazil, the United States and Switzerland, paying at least $3.5bn.