The World Bank today announced that it has imposed a three-year debarment on Brazil-based construction and engineering company Construtora Norberto Odebrecht for fraudulent and collusive practices during its participation in the World Bank-financed Río Bogotá Environmental Recuperation and Flood Control Project in Colombia.
The debarment makes Construtora Norberto Odebrecht—the construction and engineering subsidiary of the global firm Odebrecht and the largest such firm in Latin America—ineligible to participate in World Bank-financed projects. It is part of a settlement agreement under which the company acknowledges responsibility for the underlying sanctionable practices and agrees to meet specified corporate compliance conditions as a condition for release from debarment.
The project was designed to assist the Colombian government in improving water quality, reducing flood risks, and creating multifunctional areas along the Bogotá River, with the goal of making the river an environmental asset for the Bogotá Distrito Capital metropolitan region. “Construtora Norberto Odebrecht engaged in fraudulent practices by failing to disclose fees paid to commercial agents during the tender prequalification and bidding processes,” the World Bank Group stated. “These agents assisted the company in obtaining confidential information.”
Construtora Norberto Odebrecht, assisted by one of the agents to which it had paid undisclosed fees, further sought to improperly influence the tendering package that was part of the project, engaging in collusive practices prohibited by the World Bank’s procurement guidelines.
The settlement agreement provides for a reduced period of sanction due to the company’s cooperation and voluntary remedial actions, including encouraging honest disclosures by employees, producing documentation classified as privileged, and coordinating internal investigations with INT, the World Bank stated.
As a condition for release from sanction under the terms of the settlement agreement, the company commits to developing an integrity compliance program consistent with the principles set out in the World Bank Group Integrity Compliance Guidelines. The company also commits to continue to fully cooperate with the World Bank Group Integrity Vice Presidency.
The debarment of Construtora Norberto Odebrecht S.A. qualifies for cross-debarment by other multilateral development banks (MDBs) under the Agreement for Mutual Enforcement of Debarment Decisions that was signed in April 2010.