Transparency International Series

International cooperation in the Odebrecht case: Guatemala

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Capítulo 1

Summary of the facts

Amount returned may reach US$ 38.9 million

This content was produced in partnership by JOTA and Transparency International Brazil.

Investigations run by Brazil’s Public Prosecutor’s Office and by the International Commission against Impunity in Guatemala, an entity connected to the United Nations (UN), have revealed that former Communications and Infrastructure minister Alejandro Sinibaldi and former presidential candidate Manuel Baldizón were the beneficiaries of an Odebrecht-run bribery scheme.

Odebrecht executives have already made plea bargain deals with Guatemala’s justice system, which was paramount to the investigations’ progress, as well as to recovering the amount paid in bribes and in surplus materials from construction projects in the country, which may total US$ 38.9 million.

According to the investigations, which began in 2018, former minister Sinibaldi received US$ 17.9 million from Odebrecht, in exchange for favouring the company in a contract that involved reforming and expanding a highway located in the southwest of the country (Highway CA-2 – Western Segment, on the border with Mexico), which was worth US$ 300 million.

Baldizón, on the other hand, charged a US$ 3 million commission for his 2015 election campaign, using the possibility of him being elected president to coerce the company, as has been uncovered by the Guatemalan authorities.


  • Expansion of the CA-2 highway – Western Segment, at the Cocales -El Zarco-Coatepeque -Tecún Umán sections



The documents presented below are official and were obtained by searching the websites of Brazil’s judicial system’s agencies. They may not be related to the facts described above, as they may refer to cases that still haven’t been fully examined.


  • In an e-mail from January 2008, Marcelo Odebrecht sent a note to the company’s board members containing public contracts that were of interest to the company, asking that it be delivered to the “seminarist” (a likely reference to Gilberto de Carvalho, then-president Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva’s head of cabinet), “in light of the PotR’s [President of the Republic] trip to Guatemala (…)”. It is worth emphasizing that the note sent by Marcelo Odebrecht stresses that “it is important that president Lula show Guatemala’s [then] president-elect (Álvaro  Colom) that he knows about and supports Odebrecht’s interests in the country” (report written by a Paraná state Federal Police agent, analysing the contents of a hard disk drive apprehended from Marcelo Odebrecht’s secretary, Darci Luz)


Date of document: September 13, 2016

Produced by: Paraná state Federal Police


  • Marcelo Bahia Odebrecht (former chairman of the Odebrecht Group): mentions the growth in Odebrecht’s presence in Guatemala during 2008, concerning infrastructure projects. Furthermore, he talks about ex-president Lula’s influence on Guatemala’s then-president-elect, used to facilitate Odebrecht’s projects.
  • The main informants in Guatemala were Marcos de Cerqueira Lima Machado, Odebrecht’s former chief of operations in the country, and Luiz Mameri, the company’s former director for Latin America.


Data on bilateral cooperation with Brazil

Guatemala sent only one request

The information below was obtained from the Ministry of Justice and the Public Prosecutor’s Office. Since they touch on investigations that are still in progress, the Brazilian organs did not give too much detail on their subject matters, nor did they give the name of the persons and companies involved.


The first terms of commitment agreement signed by Guatemala and Brazil is dated December 8, 2018.


Within the framework of Operation Car Wash, Guatemala sent only one request for cooperation to Brazil in the last two years:

  • 2018:
  • Copies of documents


According to a report by Brazil’s Public Prosecutor’s Office from January 2019, Venezuela was not at that moment one of the countries with which Brazil was in negotiations to create a JIT – Joint Investigation Team. The three Latin-American countries in the list are Argentina, Paraguay and Peru.


Full Coverage

This content was produced in partnership by JOTA and Transparency International Brazil.

International cooperation and other catalysts for anti-corruption prosecution

Unpublished data present x-ray on activity of Latin American investigative organizations in the Odebrecht case




Dominican Republic