Spanish version


Questions answered about Odebrecht bribes

Statements have been released by an official who created the department in charge of the payments.

Spanish version


How much money did Odebrecht pay in bribes? Who handled the department? Where did the money go to pay corrupt politicians? Why did Odebrecht have such a department? 

The first thing to know about the department, which Odebrecht called the Structured Operations Sector, is that it was a smaller division that handled a lot of money. 

This department consisted basically of six people, and was headed by the president of the company, Marcelo Odebrecht. But the one who carried the weight of the operation was an executive: Hilberto Mascarenhas da Silva, who handed over to Brazilian prosecutors a synopsis of this dark division of the company, of which he was the second in command.

Mascarenhas da Silva told prosecutors that before assuming control of the Structured Operations Sector in 2006 - just as Odebrecht arrived in Panama - "there was already an area to pay bribes." The executive was invited by Marcelo Odebrecht to be part of the new future of the company. 

"Before 2006," said Mascarenhas da Silva, "the operation was much smaller, paying between $60 million and $70 million a year."

Mascarenhas da Silva was not pleased with Marcelo's offer, but said he knew that if he did not accept it, he would go directly to the "freezer," with no functions in the company and would eventually come to his dismissal. 

Plus Marcelo Odebrecht had insisted he take the position, arguing that his father, Emilio, had approved his name for the position. 

The job, said Mascarenhas da Silva, presented "too much risk and exposure," so he tried to make Marcelo's decision difficult. He asked for a high salary and other benefits, such as a car and driver, an apartment in São Paulo and tickets to and from Salvador on weekends, where his family was living. He expected the company to say no. But he was forced to take the job when it agreed to his demands. 


Once he had his key employee, Marcelo Odebrecht sprang into action. He already had a vision: "A growth plan for the organization with the consequent significant increase in the volume of bribes that Odebrecht was going to pay." 

Marcelo ordered the creation of the division, with directors that he personally selected and a centralization location that would be leak-proof. Money would not be moved in bank accounts in Brazil, only abroad. The funds would be moved through accounts owned by offshore companies, "which, because of bearer shares, made it possible to hide the name of their owners." 

Then, Mascarenhas da Silva formed his team (see chart), which included financial experts Luiz Eduardo Soares and Fernando Migliaccio. 

How would the Structured Operations Sector be fed? The cash flow would not come from the company's cash register.It would be fed by funds from the so-called "Caja 2," which - in the words of one of Odebrecht's many sources - came from payments made due to cost overruns in projects. 

Contracts that were awarded to Odebrecht were conceived with a surcharge. These funds were channeled to Caja 2. There, the money was concentrated on the over-invoicing of their works, which was then distributed among corrupt politicians - Brazilian and foreign - who facilitated the projects to the Brazilian company.

Así perdió el juego Odebrecht Expandir Imagen
Así perdió el juego Odebrecht

Así perdió el juego Odebrecht Expandir Imagen
Así perdió el juego Odebrecht


From 2006 to 2008, the volume of bribes doubled, from $60 million to $120 million. Two years later, in 2010, it went to $420 million, while for 2012 and 2013, the figures were exorbitant: $720 million each of those two years. 

Marcelo Odebrecht's plan was successful. In 8 years he paid $3.3 billion in bribes, resulting in an avalanche of massive state contracts from a dozen countries. The company was swimming in money. 

The team of Mascarenhas da Silva made the payments requested by people that Marcelo Odebrecht designated as competent to approve them, without his team having any contact with the recipients. 

In Brazil, money was paid in cash: in packages or briefcases filled with money, in predetermined places.

Payments abroad were made through bank deposits, transferred from the accounts of offshore companies controlled by Odebrecht anonymously, as Constructora Internacional del Sur, in Panama. 

Cash from Caja 2 was entered into the accounts of Olivio Rodrigues' companies. 

The rules of the department prevented the team from knowing the identity of the recipients. In order to guarantee that anonymity, the workers who requested the bribes - in Panama it was André Campos Rabello - had instructions to create nicknames, such as "Eagle," the one used in Panama. 

The Structured Operations Sector only knew that it was paying someone - entrepreneurs or politicians - in a particular account abroad or sending unaccounted money from the company to certain addresses in Brazil.

For 2009, the volume of bribes exceeded Marcelo Odebrecht's ability to attend to them personally. Until then, he was the only one who approved of them. To advance the expansion plan, Marcelo authorized those he called business leaders to assume their roles in the Structured Operations Sector. 

That "honor" for Latin America fell to Luiz Mameri, Odebrecht's vice president for the region and Angola, who would then be the person who would approve the superintendents of each country to manage the bribes. 

Bribes, like any company that is respected, had to be budgeted, so Marcelo authorized business leaders to introduce them as "expenses" in the works they carried out in each country. He would only approve or disapprove requests for bribes that were unrelated to the works. 


Mascarenhas da Silva said that he began to worry about the safety of the operation since 2009, when the volume of bribes paid by the company was $260 million, a growth of more than 400 percent in only three years.

The rules on centralization, control, and security that Marcelo himself had imposed were being violated by himself. 

"Since 2009," Mascarenhas da Silva underscored, "I started to alert Marcelo that the volume of resources was growing brutally and even if we created security mechanisms, structured operations for payments, only by the size of the volume of resources and the increasing number of people who had involvement with the area, it was impossible to guarantee security. " 

He added that he complained several times in private meetings with Marcelo or in the presence of business leaders using the Structured Operations Sector: the volume of bribes was "very high," he warned, and that "there was no security possible for moving hundreds of millions of dollars per year in resources of Caja 2 for the payment of fines. " 

"Marcelo did not give much credit to my concerns and forbade me to present whoever was the consolidated numbers of the area. When he had meetings with all the LEs and his team, in which they all presented the state of their activities for the year (the lawful part of the business), I could not present anything about numbers," he revealed. 

Mascarenhas da Silva finished his work in early 2015, when Marcelo asked him to leave.

A short time later, Marcelo would be arrested for corruption charges, which was the beginning of the end for his Department of Bribes.



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