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Colombia to pay US$61M to banks involved in scrapped Odebrecht projects

An arbitration tribunal ruled that the Colombian government must pay US$61 million to banks involved in construction projects by Odebrecht SA that were later shut down amid a bribery investigation, Reuters reported.

Several banks were part of the projects but not involved in the graft scandal, including Itaú CorpBanca Colombia SA, Bancolombia SA, Banco Davivienda SA and Banco de Occidente SA, Banco de Bogotá SA, Banco Popular SA and Banco Comercial AV Villas SA.

The corruption-embroiled construction firm in 2018 went to court against Colombia for alleged unlawful confiscation of assets during the investigation. While Odebrecht was seeking some US$780.4 million in the legal action, the arbitration decision only provides compensation to the banks.

In 2016, the Brazilian company acknowledged in a leniency deal that it bought off officials in several Latin American countries to win public works projects.

In Colombia, it secured contracts with investment of more than US$1 billion. The contracts were canceled by the Colombian state when a probe unveiled alleged bribes.

The Colombian attorney general's office said the construction company paid some US$30 million in bribes in the country.