Odebrecht gets new chief executive

Brazilian engineering company Odebrecht has named a new chief executive officer following a corruption case plea deal between the company and U.S., Brazilian, and Swiss authorities.

The company said last Friday that Luciano Nitrini Guidolin has taken up the role of Odebrecht’s news CEO.

He will replace Newton de Souza, whom Odebrecht commended for leading the company “firmly and calmly leading Odebrecht S.A. during the two most sensitive years of its history.”

De Souza, who will now become vice chairman of the board of directors of Odebrecht, had served as the CEO since 2015, when the former CEO Marcello Odebrecht was arrested, and eventually jailed, over the huge corruption scandal.

Odebrecht also said that de Souza played a decisive role in coordinating the negotiations that led to the signing of the Leniency Agreement with Brazil’s Federal Prosecution Office (MPF) along with the U.S. and Swiss authorities.

To remind, Odebrecht, along with affiliated petrochemical company Braskem SA, recently pleaded guilty to bribery charges. Authorities in the U.S. charged Odebrecht with paying about $788 million in bribes to officials in 12 countries to secure lucrative contracts.

The charges against Odebrecht were a result of a nearly three-year investigation in Brazil into corruption at the state-run oil company Petrobras, which has led to arrests and political turmoil in the country.

After securing the leniency deal with authorities in three countries, Odebrecht has been working on cutting deals with other countries, including Argentina, Chile, Colombia, Ecuador, Mexico, Peru, the Dominican Republic, Venezuela, Panama, and Portugal.

Odebrecht also said in last Friday’s announcement that, under Newton’s leadership, it created a new governance model and started a business restructuring process by divesting several assets to bolster the group’s liquidity. At the same time, an agreement with Brazil’s largest banks enabled the company to reinvest the proceeds of the sale of the assets, giving the group a cash cushion for two years.

New CEO

Luciano Guidolin began his career at Odebrecht as an intern at the companies that eventually would become Braskem. For 12 years, he worked in various departments at the petrochemical producer (sales, planning, marketing, technology, and exports) before rising to the position of executive officer.

He worked for three years to help build and expand ETH, today Odebrecht Agroindustrial, before becoming its chief financial and planning officer. He also served as the CFO of the holding company Odebrecht S.A. before returning to Braskem, where he served for five years as the executive vice president of the polymers unit in Brazil and Europe and of technology and innovation. In early 2017, he became the chief investment officer of Odebrecht S.A.

“The new CEO would continue the business restructuring process and meet the challenge of bringing Odebrecht back to growth,” said Odebrecht.

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