Police in Chile raided the office of Brazilian construction company Odebrecht in Santiago on Wednesday, as the widening corruption scandal over kickbacks and bribes through construction projects continues to reel in more figures across Latin America.
Commenting on the raids, Chile’s national public prosecutor, Jorge Abbott, said that the operations targeted “certain people that we want to talk to in respect of events that may have occurred in Chile that could eventually be constituted as a crime.”
A Chilean prosecutor is now expected to travel to Brasilia later this month to assist in the questioning of heads of the company. Prosecutors from 10 countries including Chile, Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, the Dominican Republic, Ecuador, Mexico, Panama, Peru, Portugal and Venezuela are forming a task force to share evidence in the investigation.
Prosecutors in Chile are also investigating allegations that funds were funneled into the country’s political campaigns through another multinational Brazilian construction company, OAS.
Latin America’s largest engineering group is accused of paying hundreds of millions of dollars in bribes to gain lucrative contracts with governments in at least 12 countries. So far, it has embroiled a number of political figures across the region including Venezuelan far-right opposition figure Henrique Capriles and Peru’s former President Alejandro Toledo.
Former CEO of the company Marcelo Odebrecht is serving a 19-year prison sentence after being charged with corruption last year as part of the country's largest anti-corruption probe, known as Operation Car Wash. As the investigation deepens, the case — and in particular testimonies from Marcelo Odebrecht — have the potential to seriously damage the reputation and stability of Brazilian President Michel Temer and his government.