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US authorities probe Grupo Aval over highway project

Grupo Aval Acciones y Valores SA said it received an inquiry from the U.S. Department of Justice concerning Ruta del Sol 2, a highway project in which scandal-plagued Brazilian conglomerate Odebrecht was also involved.

The company did not provide any details on the U.S. investigation, but vowed to cooperate with the inquiry.

"Grupo Aval has informed the DOJ, through its U.S. counsel, that it intends to cooperate with the DOJ's investigation, as it has done with all prior government inquiries into this matter," the Colombian financial group said.

"Grupo Aval takes this and any other government investigation that may arise very seriously," it said, adding that any further developments related to the case will be disclosed in its regular quarterly earnings reports.

Odebrecht is embroiled in a large graft scandal in Latin America and has admitted bribing government officials in 12 countries, including Colombia. Prosecutors in Colombia believe the company paid $27 million to secure the Ruta del Sol contract, which was cancelled in February 2017 after evidence of bribery surfaced.

The suspicious death of a key witness in the bribery case in November prompted Grupo Aval to deny any involvement in corruption. The witness had reportedly flagged what he saw as suspicious payments made by Odebrecht and Grupo Aval in the granting of Ruta del Sol contracts as early as 2013.