Rebuilding an Empire: The Odebrecht Challenge After the Corruption Scandal

Abstract

From modest beginnings, the conglomerate Odebrecht became one of the most relevant actors of development for Brazil and Latin America. By 2010, the conglomerate was elected the best family business in the world. Annual revenues rose from US$ 24 billion in 2008 to US$ 41.8 billion in 2014. However, by 2015 Odebrecht was in a very different situation, embroiled in a multi-billion-dollar corruption scandal. To illegally secure more than 100 projects, Odebrecht had paid approximately US$ 788 million in bribes across 12 countries. Corruption was not new in Latin America, but so many powerful people facing jail time in the region certainly was. In 2016, Odebrecht agreed to pay a record breaking fine of US$ 2.6 billion for violating the Foreign Corrupt Practice Act. This case describes Odebrecht’s corruption scandal, touching on possible causes, the company’s handling of the criminal allegations, and probable defenses to protect against future setbacks.

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