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July 26, 2017
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Venezuela prosecutors to indict two over Odebrecht bribe scheme

CARACAS — Venezuela’s state prosecutor’s office said this week it would charge two people linked to a former transport minister for alleged involvement in bribery schemes associated with the Brazilian construction company Odebrecht.

María Baptista and Elita Zacarias “are linked to the ex-minister Haiman El Troudi and must appear July 27,” the state prosecutor’s office said on Twitter, without providing further details.

Reuters was unable to obtain comments from Baptista, Zacarias, or El Troudi.

Odebrecht, the largest engineering and construction company in Latin America, acknowledged in 2016 that it paid some US$98 million dollars in bribes over several years to obtain contracts in Venezuela.

Earlier this year, the prosecutors sought the arrest of Odebrecht Venezuela chief Euzenando Azevedo, but he has not yet been captured and is presumed to have already left the country.

President Nicolás Maduro has publicly said that those responsible for the embezzlement must be punished.

Venezuela’s investigation has moved particularly slowly through the justice system, in contrast to other countries in the region where similar bribery took place.

Odebrecht has left at least 23 multi-million dollar projects unfinished or stalled in Venezuela, according to company and government documents, interviews with over two dozen workers, and site visits.

— Reuters

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