Behind the Fall of Marcelo Odebrecht, Brazil’s Construction ‘Prince’

Will Connors, Paul Kiernan – The Wall Street Journal, 12/18/2015

Brazilian building magnate Marcelo Odebrecht was a natural choice to deliver a keynote speech at the international business school he had attended in Lausanne, Switzerland. As chief executive of Odebrecht SA, he ran Latin America’s largest construction firm with a global portfolio that included the $200 million Miami Heat stadium, a $1 billion port project in Cuba and one of Africa’s largest hydroelectric dams in Angola.

Two days before the June event, Brazilian authorities upended Mr. Odebrecht’s travel plans, arresting him on suspicion of skimming money—now estimated as much as $1.8 billion—from Brazil’s state-run oil firm, Petróleo Brasileiro SA. Prosecutors have charged him with money laundering, corruption and organized crime.

Mr. Odebrecht, who remains in custody, has denied wrongdoing. The company, which also denied wrongdoing, said Mr. Odebrecht’s arrest was “unnecessary and illegal” since it was cooperating with investigators.

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