Introduction

One of the most authoritative accounts of the scale Odebrecht’s illegal activities is the case filed in the US District Court in Brooklyn in December 2016, where the company formally admitted to having paid US$788m worth of bribes in Brazil and 11 other countries, which helped it to win over 100 separate contracts that collectively generated US$3.3bn worth of profits for the group. As part of that case, Odebrecht in a plea bargain deal agreed to pay US$3.5bn worth of fines to authorities in Brazil, the US and Switzerland. The settlement was widely described as the largest-ever corruption fine levied against a corporate entity, anywhere in the world. Significantly, the runner-up in that ranking of notoriety is also Brazilian, the meat and foodstuffs conglomerate JBS, which in May 2017 agreed to pay a US$3.16bn fine for making corrupt payments in the country.

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