Feb. 20 (UPI) -- Juan Guaidó, the leader of the Comptroller Committee in the National Assembly, said Venezuelan and Brazilian authorities launched an investigation into late former President Hugo Chavez over his possible role in the multinational Odebrecht corruption scandal.
Venezuela's Public Ministry late January said it launched an investigation into accusations officials under Chavez and his replacement Nicolas Maduro received nearly $100 million in bribes from Brazilian company Odebrecht.
In the investigation conducted by the Brazilian and Venezuelan public prosecutor's offices, several transport ministers who worked under Chavez's regime are accused of receiving bribes. Those implications have widened the investigation to include Chavez himself, Guaidó said.
"The transport ministers of Chavism are on the list of bribes of the construction company," Guaidó said on the Éxitos FM Caracas radio station. "In addition, an investigation was also opened against the late President Hugo Chavez for being part of the binational agreements with the Brazilian government."
Odebrecht is accused of paying about $98 million in bribes to Venezuelan officials from 2006 through 2015 to obtain and hold public works contracts. Odebrecht in December agreed to pay at least $2.6 billion in criminal penalties over its role in the massive corruption scandal.
Politicians, mainly in Brazil but also in Peru and Venezuela, are accused of accepting bribes -- either personal bribes or bribes distributed to their political party -- in exchange for lucrative government contracts.
Odebrecht's influence in Venezuela was spearheaded through economic agreements with Chavez and former Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, who is facing a trial over corruption and money-laundering charges.
Guaidó said about 21 infrastructure projects awarded to Odebrecht were left unfinished. Guaidó said Chavez and Odebrecht were only interested in the projects to launder money.
"Neither the government nor the company ever had a real interest in building good infrastructure. They just cared to launder money," Guaidó said.