Antigua government denies knowledge of local official linked to corrupt activities of Brazilian company
The Antigua and Barbuda government Friday said it is treating “quite seriously” a report in the New York Times newspaper suggesting that unnamed persons, claiming to be linked to the government there, were involved in corrupt activities related to the Brazilian multinational, Odebrecht S. A. and the energy company, Petrobras.
“I am treating the New York Times report quite seriously, particularly as it is quoting from an official document of the US District Court in Eastern New York in a case between the US government and Odebrecht,” Prime Minister Gaston Browne said in a statement.
“I have instructed our Ambassador in Washington, DC, Sir Ronald Sanders, to retain legal services immediately in order to secure the cooperation of the US District Court with regard to identifying the unnamed persons who claimed to be linked to the government,” he said.
He said that his administration is not aware of the court case or the allegations made by a witness in the case until his office was contacted by a senior editor with the Trinidad Guardian newspaper on Thursday.
“My government is resolved to get to the bottom of this story since it alleges involvement by persons claiming to be intermediaries for, or officials of, the government. If these allegations are substantiated, I will act immediately and appropriately against any such persons”, Prime Minister Browne said.
The court document notes that in mid-2015, an employee of the Brazilian company attended a meeting in Miami “with a consular official from Antigua and an intermediary to a high-level government official in Antigua in order to conceal Odebrecht’s corrupt activities.”
It said that the employee “requested that the high-level official refrain from providing to international authorities various banking documents that would reveal illicit payments made by the Division of Structured Operations on behalf of Odebrecht, and agreed to pay four million US dollars to the high-level official to refrain from sending the documents.”
The document added that another employee of the Brazilian company “made three payments of one million Euros on behalf of Odebrecht in order to secure the deal. The contemplated fourth payment was never made”.
But in his statement, Prime Minister Browne noted that “far from refraining from providing documents to international authorities, the Antigua and Barbuda government was proactive in its cooperation with the Brazilian and other governments”.