U.S. judge approves $2.6 billion fine for Odebrecht in corruption case

By Brendan Pierson

NEW YORK (Reuters) – A U.S. judge on Monday sentenced Brazilian engineering company Odebrecht SA to pay $2.6 billion (2.08 billion pounds) in fines in a massive criminal corruption case, signing off on a plea deal between the company and U.S., Brazilian and Swiss authorities.

U.S. District Judge Raymond Dearie said at a hearing in Brooklyn federal court that about $93 million will go to the United States, $2.39 billion to Brazil and $116 million to Switzerland.

Odebrecht, along with affiliated petrochemical company Braskem SA, pleaded guilty to U.S. bribery charges in December. U.S. authorities charged Odebrecht with paying about $788 million in bribes to officials in 12 countries, mostly in Latin America, to secure lucrative contracts.

Some of those bribes flowed through U.S. banks, the prosecutors said.

Monday’s order comes as Odebrecht tries to negotiate plea deals with other countries, including Argentina, Chile, Colombia, Ecuador, Mexico, Peru, the Dominican Republic, Venezuela, Panama and Portugal.

A public relations executive working for Odebrecht in São Paulo had no immediate comment. William Burck, a lawyer for Odebrecht in the United States, declined to comment after the court hearing.

The charges against Odebrecht stemmed from a nearly three-year investigation in Brazil into corruption at the state-run oil company Petrobras, which has led to dozens of arrests and political upheaval in Brazil.

Brazilian President Michel Temer said on Monday he expects some of his ministers to resign after they were implicated in the investigation.

(Reporting By Brendan Pierson in New York; Additional reporting by Guillermo Parra-Bernal in São Paulo; Editing by Meredith Mazzilli)