Odebrecht S.A. (Brazilian Portuguese: [odɛˈbɾɛ(t͡)ʃ]) is a Brazilian conglomerate, headquartered in Salvador, Bahia, Brazil, consisting of diversified businesses in the fields of engineering, construction, chemicals and petrochemicals. The company was founded in 1944 in Salvador, Bahia by Norberto Odebrecht, and is now present in the regions of the Americas, the Caribbean, Africa, Europe and the Middle East. Its leading company is Norberto Odebrecht Construtora.[2]

Odebrecht S.A.
FoundersNorberto Odebrecht
HeadquartersSalvador, Bahia, Brazil
São Paulo, São Paulo, Brazil
Key people
Luciano Guidolin
Ruy Lemos Sampaio
ProductsConstruction, engineering, aerospace, environmental engineering, petrochemicals, chemicals, utilities, ethanol, real estate, infrastructure, defense, transportation, and others
Revenue US$25.7 billion (2017)
US$207.6 million (2017)
Number of employees
ParentConstrutora Norberto Odebrecht S.A.
SubsidiariesConstrutora Norberto Odebrecht
Odebrecht Oil and Gas
Foz do Brasil
Odebrecht Realizações Imobiliárias
Odebrecht Infraestrutura
Odebrecht Agroindustrial,
Odebrecht Administradora E Corretora De Seguros
Odeprev Odebrecht Previdência
Odebrecht USA
Odebrecht Foundation
Odebrecht Energia

Odebrecht S.A. is a holding company for Construtora Norberto Odebrecht S.A., the biggest engineering and contracting company in Latin America, and Braskem, the largest petrochemicals producer in Latin America and one of Brazil's five largest private-sector manufacturing companies. Odebrecht controls Braskem, which by revenue is the fourth largest petrochemical company in the Americas and the seventeenth in the world.

The name Odebrecht has become shorthand for an unprecedented regional bribery scandal.[3] Between 2001-2016, Odebrecht paid USD $788 million in bribes across Latin America.[4]

Odebrecht has also been central to the Operation Car Wash scandal. On 19 June 2015, Brazilian authorities arrested the former CEO, Marcelo Odebrecht, in connection with their ongoing probe into bribes paid to the Brazilian oil giant, Petrobras.[5] On 7 March 2016 he was sentenced to 19 years and 4 months jail, for paying over US$30 million in bribes to executives of Petrobras, in exchange for contracts and influence.[6][7] On June 17, 2019, the group filed for bankruptcy, seeking to restructure USD $13 billion in debt.


Norberto Odebrecht Construtora Ltda., the privately owned precursor to Odebrecht S.A, was founded in 1944 by Norberto Odebrecht. In the late 1970s and early 80s, Odebrecht began to expand internationally and diversify its business. In 1980, CBPO, another Brazilian contractor, merged with Odebrecht,[8] and in 1981 Odebrecht S.A. was created. In 2002, Odebrecht established Braskem, a petrochemical company that went on to become Latin America's largest. In 2007, Odebrecht Agroindustrial was established to produce ethanol, sugar and energy.

Corporate structures

  • Odebrecht Energia (energy) – Invests, constructs and manages projects in the Latin American electric sector, such as hydroelectric, thermoelectric and nuclear power plants. Emphasis is made on projects in Brazil, Peru and Colombia.
  • Odebrecht Engenharia Industrial (industrial engineering) – Constructs and assembles industrial facilities in Brazil and abroad, serving clients from a range of different sectors.
  • Odebrecht Infraestrutura (infrastructure) – Completes important projects in the transport, sanitation, sports arena and irrigation sectors in Brazil.
  • Odebrecht América Latina & Angola (Latin America and Angola) – Leads investments and construction projects in regions that served as the pioneers for Odebrecht's international expansion.
  • Odebrecht Venezuela – Invests and completes projects in the infrastructure, real estate, industrial, oil and gas, petrochemical and food security sectors in the country.
  • Odebrecht International – Includes operations of 65 different nationalities, maintaining a unique quality standard and respecting the unique characteristics of each region.
  • Odebrecht Óleo e Gás S.A. (oil and gas) – Explores and produces oil and gas fields, operates rigs and provides integrated services for other companies from the sector.
  • Odebrecht Realizações Imobiliárias S.A. (real estate developments) – Develops residential, business, commercial and tourism ventures.
  • Foz do Brasil S.A. – Provides water supply and waste treatment services.
  • Odebrecht Agroindustrial S.A. – Produces alcohol fuel (ethanol), electricity and sugar using sugarcane.
  • Brasken S.A. – Produces raw materials in an integrated fashion, including ethane, propane and chlorine, as well as second-generation petrochemical products, such as thermoplastic resins.
  • Odebrecht Participações e Investimentos – Leads the company's operations in diversified infrastructure sectors, investing in transportation and logistics, energy, sports arenas and irrigation.
  • Odebrecht Administradora e Corretora de Seguros Ltda. – Protects the assets of shareholders by identifying, mitigating and managing risks.
  • Odeprev – Designs and operates supplementary pension plans for Odebrecht Organization members, preparing them for retirement.
  • Fundação Odebrecht (foundation) – Promotes youths' education for life, through work and for values, as well as the sustainable development of productive chains.

The Treasurer of the Brazilian Workers' Party, João Vaccari Neto, was arrested in 2015 for allegedly receiving "irregular donations",[9] and José Dirceu, former chief of staff for President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, was arrested for orchestrating a large part of the scandal, also in 2015.[10]

Speaker of the Chamber of Deputies (lower house of the Congress of Brazil) Eduardo Cunha (PMDB-RJ), was investigated for allegedly receiving more than USD$40 million in kickbacks and bribes.[11] He was imprisoned in October 2016 and his accounts frozen.[12] Former Minister of Mines and Energy Edison Lobão (PMDB) was investigated for receiving more than USD$50 million in bribes from Petrobras and arrested 19 October 2016 and held in custody due to what the justice department of Paraná state called "a concrete possibility of flight given his access to hidden resources abroad, as well as double nationality."[13]

In February 2016, amidst the Peruvian presidential race, a report from the Brazilian Federal Police implicated Peruvian president Ollanta Humala as a recipient of bribes from Odebrecht in exchange for public works contracts. Humala rejected the accusation and has avoided any confrontation with the media on the matter.[14][15] Under the Humala administration Odebrecht received contracts worth US$152 million, in addition to the $7.3 billion Southern Gas Pipeline project and $60 million in contracts with regional governments in Peru.[15]

On 4 March 2016, former Brazilian President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva was detained and questioned for three hours as part of a huge fraud inquiry into the state oil company Petrobras after his house was raided by federal police agents. Lula, who left office in 2011, denied allegations of corruption. The long-running inquiry known as Operation Car Wash, is probing accusations of corruption and money laundering at Petrobras. Dozens of executives and politicians have been arrested or are under investigation on suspicion of overcharging on contracts with Petrobras and kicking part of the money for bribes and electoral campaigns. Police said they had evidence that Lula, 70, received illicit benefits from the kickback scheme. Lula's institute said in a statement that "violence" against the former president was "arbitrary, illegal and unjustifiable", as he had been co-operating with the investigations.[16]

Other politicians involved

Antigua and Barbuda

Executives running Odebrecht's bribery division secretly bought a majority share of Meinl Bank and used it to transfer funds to politicians' offshore accounts.[17] Prime Minister Gaston Browne denied receiving a bribe from Odebrecht in January 2016.[18]




The Worker's Party (PT) government of Dilma Rousseff was criticized during her reelection bid for heavily financing the proposed free enterprise zone at the Port of Mariel in Cuba.[21]

Dominican Republic

At least $92 million of the bribes Odebrecht has admitted making were paid in the Dominican Republic, and 14 people were charged with bribery or money laundering.[17] The Dominican Republic announced in February $184 million in fines — twice the amount of its illicit payments to win public works contracts between 2001 and 2014.[22]





The attorney-general of Panama has announced that 43 people suspected of involvement in the bribery scandal. Odebrecht is the largest government contractor in Panama, with contracts over 500 million, including a subway line in Panama City.


  • Alan García, former Peruvian president (American Popular Revolutionary Alliance).
  • Alejandro Toledo, former Peruvian president.[26] Peru requested his extradition from the United States on charges of accepting $20 million in Odebrecht bribes.[27]
  • Ollanta Humala and Nadine Heredia, former Peruvian president and former Peruvian first lady,[28] who have been detained for up to 18 months in connection with this scandal.[29]
  • Keiko Fujimori, Peruvian politician, who received more than $1 million dollars (Popular Force).
  • Pedro Pablo Kuczynski, Peru's President from 2016 to 2018, who in December 2017 appeared before Congress to defend himself against impeachment over allegations of covering up illegal payments of $782m from Brazilian construction giant Odebrecht to Kuczynski's company Westfield Capital Ltd. Keiko Fujimori, who lost the 2016 presidential elections by a margin of fewer than 50,000 votes, is championing the motion; her party has already forced out five government ministers.[30] He resigned from his position on 22 March due to a scandal of bribing people to not vote for his vacancy for receiving money from Odebrecht.


Paradise Papers

On 5 November 2017, the Paradise Papers, a set of confidential electronic documents relating to offshore investment, revealed that Appleby managed 17 offshore companies for Odebrecht and at least one of them was used as a vehicle for the payment of bribes in Operation Car Wash. Some of these offshore companies are publicly known to operate for Odebrecht in Africa and be involved in bribes. Among those involved in the operation who are named in the papers are Marcelo Odebrecht, his father Emílio Odebrecht, and his brother Maurício Odebrecht.[33]


2009 Engineering News-Record magazine rankings
  • No. 18 The Top 225 International Contractors
  • No. 34 The Top 225 Global Contractors
  • No. 1 Hydro Plants
  • No. 4 Sewerage and Solid Waste
  • No. 4 Water Supply
  • No. 1 Sanitary and Storm Sewers
  • No. 5 Pipelines
  • No. 5 Water Treatment and Desalinization
  • No. 12 Transportation
  • No. 5 Bridges
  • No. 7 Highways
  • No. 9 Mass Transit
  • No. 6 Airports

Notable projects



  1. https://www.odebrecht.com/sites/default/files/annual_report_2018.pdf
  2. "Corporate Structure | Odebrecht". 10 July 2012. Archived from the original on 10 July 2012. Retrieved 24 May 2017.CS1 maint: BOT: original-url status unknown (link)
  3. "What Led Peru's Former President to Take His Own Life?". The New Yorker. 1 July 2019. Retrieved 19 July 2019.
  4. "How one company's deep web of corruption took down governments across Latin America". The Washington Post. 1 July 2019. Retrieved 19 July 2019.
  5. "Brazil Arrests Head of Odebrecht in Petrobras Scandal". The New York Times. 20 June 2015. Retrieved 22 December 2016.
  6. Fonseca, Pedro (8 March 2016). "Former Odebrecht CEO sentenced in Brazil kickback case". Reuters. Retrieved 8 March 2016.
  7. "Brazil Petrobras scandal: Tycoon Marcelo Odebrecht jailed". BBC. 8 March 2016. Retrieved 8 March 2016.
  8. "Engenharia e Construção". Odebrecht (in Portuguese). 30 June 2014. Retrieved 30 August 2019.
  9. Jelmayer, Rogerio (15 April 2015). "Brazil Police Arrest Workers' Party Treasurer Joao Vaccari Neto". The Wall Street Journal. Retrieved 27 August 2015.
  10. MAGALHAES, LUCIANA (3 August 2015). "Brazilian Police Arrest José Dirceu, Ex-Chief of Staff, in Petrobras Probe". The Wall Street Journal. Retrieved 9 September 2015.
  11. Romero, Simon (21 August 2015). "Expanding Web of Scandal in Brazil Threatens Further Upheaval". The New York Times. Retrieved 9 September 2015.
  12. ANTONIO JIMÉNEZ BARCA (20 October 2016). "Brazil's former house speaker arrested on corruption charges: Eduardo Cunha, instrumental in the impeachment of Dilma Rousseff, has spent his first day in custody". São Paulo: El País.
  13. "Brazil: Eduardo Cunha arrested over alleged corruption: Former lower house speaker detained as part of a probe into corruption at oil giant Petrobras". Al Jazeera. 19 October 2016. Retrieved 27 April 2017.
  14. Leahy, Joe. "Peru president rejects link to Petrobras scandal". Financial Times. Retrieved 24 February 2016.
  15. Post, Colin. "Peru: Ollanta Humala implicated in Brazil's Carwash scandal". perureports.com. Retrieved 23 February 2016.
  16. "Brazil Petrobras scandal: Former president Lula questioned". BBC News. 4 March 2016. Retrieved 22 December 2016.
  17. Ezra Fieser (12 June 2017). "A Graft Machine's Collapse Sows Chaos in the Caribbean: In the Dominican Republic, the fall of the Odebrecht corruption empire is threatening a power plant—and a presidency". Bloomberg. Retrieved 20 February 2018.
  18. Gaston Browne (6 October 2017). "Antigua and Barbuda and the 'Odebrecht case'". El País. Retrieved 20 February 2018.
  19. "Odebrecht admits payments to Colombian presidential campaigns - Xinhua - English.news.cn". news.xinhuanet.com. Retrieved 14 December 2017.
  20. Elcomercio.pe, Redacción (8 February 2017). "Campaña de Santos recibió dinero de Odebrecht, según fiscalía". elcomercio.pe. Retrieved 14 December 2017.
  21. Wilkinson, Tracy; Bevins, Vincent (17 February 2015). "In funding Cuba port project, Brazil set to gain key foothold". Los Angeles Time.
  22. Mick Bowen; Kevin Gray (9 March 2017). "Odebrecht's bribery scandal casts a shadow over Latin America". Latin Finance. Retrieved 20 February 2018.
  23. "Guatemala businessman to face graft charges after U.S. deportation". Reuters. 21 January 2018. Retrieved 21 January 2018.
  24. Lafuente, Javier (14 August 2017). "La corrupción sacude de nuevo a Peña Nieto". elpais.com. Retrieved 14 December 2017.
  25. Juan Montes (5 May 2017). "Odebrecht Testimony in Brazil Points to Pemex Bribe in Mexico: Ex-official of Brazilian construction firm testified he was asked to pay $5 million to then-chief of Mexican oil company". Wall Street Journal. Retrieved 20 February 2018.
  26. Collyns, Dan (10 February 2017). "Peru ex-president Alejandro Toledo faces arrest on bribery charges". The Guardian. ISSN 0261-3077. Retrieved 11 February 2017.
  27. Jamie Rosenfield (20 February 2018). "Former President Alejandro Toledo to be extradited from U.S. to Perú". Peru Reports. Retrieved 20 February 2018.
  28. "Odebrecht confirms $3 million bribe paid to Peru's ex-president". perureports.com. 13 April 2017. Retrieved 14 December 2017.
  29. "Ollanta Humala and wife detained in corruption probe". Al Jazeera. Al Jazeera. 14 July 2017. Retrieved 21 November 2017.
  30. Sanchez, Mariana (21 December 2017). "Peru's Congress debates impeachment of President Kuczynski". Lima: Al Jazeera. Retrieved 22 December 2017.
  31. Casey, Nicholas (12 October 2017). "Maduro Becomes Latest Leader Accused in Huge Bribery Scheme". Retrieved 14 December 2017 via NYTimes.com.
  32. "Reporte: Odebrecht habría financiado campaña de opositor venezolano Capriles". elnuevoherald.com. Retrieved 14 December 2017.
  33. Delfino, Emilia (8 November 2017). "Paradise Papers: Salen a la luz 17 offshore de Odebrecht y al menos una se usó para sobornos". Perfil. Archived from the original on 8 November 2017. Retrieved 9 November 2017.
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