A new leak released by the Consortium of Investigative Journalists has revealed secret payments for millions of dollars, hitherto unknown, made by a division of Odebrecht created primarily to handle bribes made by the company, including some related to the construction of the Metro from Quito and the Ruta Viva, which links the capital with the Tababela airport.
The ICIJ has found more than $ 39 million in secret payments associated with the giant coal-fired thermoelectric power station of Punta Catalina in the Dominican Republic, more than $ 3 million in secret payments linked to the Southern Gas Pipeline. in Peru, and others related to other large infrastructure projects in the region.
Regarding the Quito Metro, the ICIJ has revealed that in the Drousys email system, Odebrecht employees with the key names of “Silver”, “Fred” and “Wilson”, talk about payments related to the Quito Metro that were channeled through his office. In July 2015, for example, Silver asked Fred if payment had been made for the Metro and if it had been made through Meinl Bank, a bank whose subsidiary in Antigua and Barbuda had been acquired by Odebrecht operators in 2010. to facilitate bribes, according to prosecutors. Fred answers affirmatively.
“Metro payment was also made through Meinl,” Fred writes in his response email to Silver.
According to the newspaper El Universo, whose journalist, Monica Almeida also participated in the investigation, the total of bribes paid in relation to the Quito Metro amounts to 7 million dollars.
The message states that the payment was made through the company Fortress Investors Ltd., which is mentioned repeatedly in the files of the bribery office as one of the conduits for making payments. The records do not say who received those secret payments or for what purpose they were made.
Mauricio Rodas, the former mayor of Quito whose administration approved the Odebrecht contract, told an ICIJ journalist that Odebrecht was selected only because it had made the most economical offer, and that the project, a 14 kilometer network of underground tunnels, was going to transform mobility in Quito. It is expected that the Metro, which is due to open in December, will transport up to 530,000 passengers per day.
When Odebrecht’s international bribery scheme came to light, Ecuador’s prosecutors launched an investigation to see if the company’s works in Quito’s Metro were tainted by bribes. In March 2018, after more than a year of delving into the case, prosecutors closed the investigation, saying there was no evidence to support the charges.
The Ruta Viva, a connecting highway between Quito and the Tababela airport, is not mentioned in the accusations of the Ecuadorian prosecutors, but its name does appear in this new treasure of leaked documents, in connection with a payment of October 2012 for 915,000 units of an unspecified currency, a few months after the city granted Odebrecht the contract to build that route. The documents now leaked do not reveal who received that secret payment.
The report published on Tuesday night on the portal of the Consortium of Investigative Journalists (and simultaneously by 17 sites in the continent) is signed by the American journalist Sasha Chavkin, and has been based as he relates, in a leak of more than 13,000 documents obtained by journalist Anderson Boscán, from the site La Posta, which has shared them with the ICIJ, which coordinated the work with journalists from 17 allied media in the continent.