MEXICO CITY (Reuters) - Odebrecht [ODBES.UL], the Brazilian construction company at the center of a far-reaching Latin American bribery scandal, said on Friday that wrongdoing at the company should not be used to impose sanctions against it in Mexico.
Officials in Mexico’s incoming administration said this week that they may block the company from participating in public works projects under the next government.
In response to a query from Reuters, the company said in a statement that it is willing to work with Mexican authorities and that allegations of misconduct or corruption should not be the basis of “unfair and unlawful sanctions”.
Odebrecht paid $3.5 billion in settlements in the United States, Brazil and Switzerland in the wake of the scandal, which investigators began uncovering in 2014.
The company also told U.S. and Brazilian prosecutors that it paid bribes amounting to $10 million in Mexico.
“Odebrecht certainly will not have any invitation to participate in public works (in Mexico),” Mexico’s incoming communications and transportation minister Javier Jimenez Espriu said in an interview on Wednesday.
Mexico banned Odebrecht in December for bidding for federal public contracts for four years after finding that an affiliate had made an “incorrect charge” of $6.20 million in a contract with Pemex.
In April, it banned federal and state agencies from working with the firm until 2020 and fined Odebrecht $60 million. The government said the decision related to probes into suspected corruption in Odebrecht’s business with Pemex.
Outgoing President Enrique Pena Nieto’s administration was been rocked by a series of corruption scandals. Emilio Lozoya, the man he first appointed to run Pemex, was linked last year to the Odebrecht payments scandal by media investigations in Brazil and Mexico.
Lozoya has denied any wrongdoing. Mexico’s attorney general launched a probe into the Odebrecht case, which concluded last year but its findings have not been published.
Irma Sandoval, the incoming head of the Public Administration Ministry, which imposed the bans on Odebrecht, said on Thursday Lopez Obrador’s government may prohibit the company from making public bids, without providing details.
“We’re considering prohibiting the participation of future bids from corrupt companies like Braskem, Odebrecht and many more,” she told Reuters in an interview.
Brazilian petrochemical firm Braskem BRKM5.SA pleaded guilty to a conspiracy charge over a scheme involving Odebrecht and was sentenced to pay a $632.6 million criminal fine.
Reporting by Daina Beth Solomon and Diego Ore