Global Fraud Footprint

Chile's anti-corruption model raises Latin American standards

In this column, subject matter experts analyze fraud causes and remedies in regions and countries around the globe. — ed.

In 2017, Odebrecht, a Brazilian construction company, admitted to using bribery and corruption to secure more than 100 projects in 12 countries in Latin America, which generated illegal gains of about $3.3 billion. Odebrecht’s corruption reached the highest levels of government: The web of bribes implicated Latin American presidents, senators and officials. Odebrecht agreed to pay $3.5 billion in fines to Brazil, the U.S. and Switzerland — the largest corruption-related fine ever levied on a company. (See This company created the world’s biggest bribery ring, by Patrick Gillespie and Marilia Brocchetto, CNN Money, April 5, 2017, and No One Has Ever Made a Corruption Machine Like This One, by Michael Smith, Sabrina Valle and Blake Schmidt, Bloomberg Businessweek, June 8, 2017.)

The Odebrecht corruption scandal, which has halted construction projects throughout Latin America, has highlighted the prevalence of corrupt practices in the region, such as paying for access and favors — bribes, or “compadrazgos” or “sobornos.” Latin America’s reliance on corrupt practices — in this instance, paying bribes to get contracts — weakens the work that’s been done in the region by some Latin American countries, such as Chile, to combat corruption and fraud.


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