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Brazilian tycoon sentenced to 19 years over Petrobras bribes

By Andrew V. Pestano Follow @AVPLive9 Contact the Author   |   March 8, 2016 at 1:23 PM

BRASILIA, Brazil, March 8 (UPI) -- Marcelo Odebrecht, a Brazilian tycoon convicted of paying more than $30 million in bribes, was sentenced to 19 years in prison on Tuesday.

The sentence comes as part of the Petrobras corruption scandal. More than 39 people in Brazil have been indicted on corruption, money laundering and racketeering over the scandal in Petrobras, a semi-public oil and gas company.

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The Odebrecht group, founded by Odebrecht's family, is considered one of the largest construction conglomerates in Latin America. It previously employed about 181,000 people in 21 different countries across South America and Africa.

Odebrecht, once connected to top politicians, was found guilty of money laundering, corruption and taking part in a criminal association. He was convicted of paying more than $30 million in bribes in order to secure contracts.

The scandal has tarnished the image of major political leadership, including of President Dilma Rousseff and former President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, who was detained last week.

Rousseff was previously exonerated by authorities, but senior members of her government have been charged. The Brazilian Federal Police said the indicted members of the group moved over $3.9 billion in what police term as "atypical" financial transactions.

In 2015, the Brazilian economy is nearly 5 percent smaller than it was the previous year. The Petrobras scandal is partly to blame because it led to decreases in foreign investment. The corruption scandal had led to repeated calls that Rousseff either reign or face impeachment.

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