1. Skip to content
  2. Skip to main menu
  3. Skip to more DW sites

Brazil's Odebrecht changes name to Novonor

December 18, 2020

The Brazilian construction giant, known for its role in the "Operation Car Wash" scandal, is trying to repair its image with a new name.

Odebrecht sign outside the headquarters in Sao Paulo
The conglomerate admitted to bribing officials across Latin America for plum contractsImage: picture-alliance/epa/S. Mor

Brazilian engineering conglomerate Odebrecht announced Friday that it changed its name to Novonor, as it tries to move on from years of being tied to high-profile corruption scandals across Latin America.

The company said in a statement that the name change was the "culmination" of a yearslong transformation, during which Odebrecht changed its "internal processes and ways of acting, strictly guided by ethics, integrity and transparency."

"We're not erasing the past. The past cannot be erased," said the statement from Mauricio Odebrecht, who is currently on the company's board of directors. "After all the changes and course corrections we've instituted, now we're looking at what we want to be: a company inspired by the future."

Novonor is now a holding company of a business group with 25,000 employees and six companies in engineering, construction, infrastructure, oil and gas, real estate and petrochemicals, according to the statement.

At its height before the scandal, Odebrecht employed 180,000 people around the world.

Map showing Odebrecht bribes

Latin American mega-scandal

The Operation Car Wash investigation was launched in 2014 to uncover a network of bribes paid out by large construction companies to politicians to obtain lucrative contracts with Brazilian state oil company Petrobras.

The scam involved the Petrobras officials allowing the 16 companies to overcharge Petrobras for construction work and services over a period of several years in the 2000s.

Odebrecht was at the center of the investigationand admitted to paying out government officials and political parties across Latin America. The case sparked political crises in several countries, including Brazil, Peru, and Panama.  

The investigation sent dozens of top Brazilian businessmen and politicians sent to jail. Former President the firm's former head Marcelo Odebrecht, who was arrested in 2015 and is currently serving a reduced sentence of 10 years in house arrest.

In 2016, the company pleaded guilty to graft charges in the US and ended up paying $2.6 billion to US, Swiss and Brazilian authorities, the largest such payout in US history.

The Odebrecht standstill

wmr/ms (Reuters, AFP)