A Brazilian federal court sentenced the former CEO of the country's largest construction company Odebrecht SA to more than 19 years in prison for involvement in a corruption scheme at state-run oil and energy firm Petroleo Brasileiro SA, or Petrobras.
Marcelo Odebrecht, who also was former chairman at Braskem SA, a top thermoplastic resin producer, was convicted of money laundering, bribery and organized crime, according to the March 8 court statement.
Odebrecht is accused of forming a cartel, along with other Brazilian construction companies, to collude on which would win Petrobras contracts, including the construction of the highly anticipated petrochemical complex Comperj, in Rio de Janeiro.
Odebrecht would pay bribes to former Petrobras executives to obtain some contracts, according to the court.
Another former Odebrecht and Braskem executive, Alexandrino Alencar, was sentenced to 15 years and 7 months for corruption and money laundering. He is accused, among other crimes, of paying bribes to a former Petrobras director who was involved in naphtha contract negotiations.
Federal Judge Sérgio Moro said in the verdict that naphtha prices in the 2009 contract between Petrobras and Braskem favored Braskem.
Braskem buys 70 percent of its naphtha from Petrobras.
Marcelo Odebrecht's defense lawyers said the sentence is “unfair and unjust,” and that they would “continue to fight for his freedom and innocence before the higher courts."
Braskem did not respond to a request for comment.
Marcelo Odebrecht was arrested in June.