Construction Giant's Former CEO Fired

Marcelo Odebrecht was imprisoned following a sweeping corruption probe in Brazil.

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RIO DE JANEIRO (AP) โ€” Brazilian construction giant Odebrecht said Friday that it has โ€œfiredโ€ its one-time CEO Marcelo Odebrecht, who this month granted media interviews and reportedly began giving information to the company's compliance department.

The move follows the recommendations of independent monitors from Brazilian federal prosecutors and the U.S. Justice Department, which approved by the company's board in October with a year-end deadline, the company said.

Although the former CEO no longer had a formal role in company management, he continued to draw a salary.

Odebrecht was one of the largest companies implicated and then devastated by Brazil's sweeping probe into corruption, and Marcelo Odebrecht โ€” grandson of the company's founder โ€” was among the largest executives taken down. Kickbacks for construction contracts were revealed across the continent and the Justice Department secured billions of dollars in penalties.

Marcelo Odebrecht went to prison with a nearly two-decade sentence, then signed a plea bargain along with dozens of other company employees. He was released two years ago to serve a reduced sentence, initially under full house arrest until, in September, he was allowed to leave home for work.

The announcement of his dismissal, confirmed by Marcelo Odebrecht's press advisor, follows his first interviews in years, in which he described inner company workings and why the decision to seek a leniency agreement took so long. He has reportedly been providing emails and documents to the company's compliance department.

โ€œMarcelo Odebrecht's firing is just an unequivocal demonstration of another act of abuse of power by Odebrecht's current president," according to a statement provided by his press adviser, in a reference to Ruy Sampaio.

The statement goes on to call the move a means of intimidation in an attempt to paralyze fact-gathering by the company's compliance department.

The company's statement, for its part, didn't address Marcelo Odebrecht's accusations. Company press advisers didn't immediately respond to requests for comment from The Associated Press.

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