Mexican authorities continue to conceal information about Odebrecht investigation

An investigation into the wide-scale scandal which involved Brazilian construction company Odebrecht and up to $800 million worth of bribes across Latin America in a bid to secure government construction contracts continues to be stalled by Mexican officials.

Though the Mexican Attorney General’s Office has launched an investigation into alleged bribery to Mexican officials, the office refuses to release details on the process of their work.

According to Animal Politico, who requested details into the case, one of the reasons that the Attorney General’s Office won’t release details is because it risks damaging ‘the good name’ of people involved.

The case relates to ongoing investigations across a number of countries into bribery that has seeped into countless Latin American governments. It has led to the impeachments of presidents and pulled governments into disarray over high-profile bribery in countries such as Peru and Colombia. According to the New York Times, the Brazilian company even bought a bank branch in an attempt to conceal transactions. As a result of the extensive bribery, the company was able to build wide-scale, government-funded constructions such as motorways, dams, bridges and even power plants.

Earlier this year it was reported that Mexican officials had gathered enough evidence to charge a number of prominent officials over the Odebrecht bribery scandal, however, so far, the country has chosen not to do so. According to reports from June, there were two ongoing federal investigations into bribery in Mexico, yet sources suggested that the people involved were not named due to risks it would damage the upcoming election. Now, five months later and with a new political party set to take the seat of power by next week, still the investigations have remained silent. It joins just one other country, Venezuela, who is not appearing to investigate the scandal.

By October, official demands by the National Institute Plenary of Access to Information had demanded that the Attorney General’s Office release the information as it is in the public interest, however stalling continues on the side of the federal investigation and it appears unlikely that details will be released anytime soon.

The reasons behind the concealment of this information were listed in seven points, from claiming that the request for information is not in the public interest but more so ‘simple curiosity’ as well as suggesting that there is not enough evidence just yet to confirm that there were elements of corruption. The ministry then went on to explain that it will not release any information regarding the case for the next five years.

The ongoing case is just one of a number of corruption allegations, that appears pointed at the outgoing PRI political party. Enrique Pena Nieto’s presidency has seen its fair share of scandals, and countless allegations that his government has failed to protect human rights and contributed to ongoing impunity levels. It was over four years ago, for instance, that 43 students disappeared in Guerrero in what is known as the Ayotzinapa case. Despite international calls for a thorough investigation into the disappearances – the whereabouts of the students remains unknown – no-one has been brought to justice for the case. It has been speculated that there was both police and organised crime involvement.

Under the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, Odebrecht agreed to settle with the United States, Brazil and Switzerland for the sum of $4.5 billion. The largest anti-corruption settlement to ever take place, it has seen arrests across the continent and the company’s executive, Marcelo Odebrecht, remains imprisoned.

Nonetheless, the investigations continue and should the Mexican Attorney General’s Office keep to their word,  the true extent of Pandora’s Box will only be opened in five years time.

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