Corrupt Brazilian tycoon freed for house arrest

Curitiba (Brazil) (AFP) –


Marcelo Odebrecht, the construction tycoon at the center of Brazil's biggest ever corruption scandal, was released from prison Tuesday to begin house arrest, an AFP journalist at the scene said.

Odebrecht, 49, left the prison in Curitiba after serving two and a half years behind bars. He will be given a monitoring ankle bracelet and then return to his luxury home in Sao Paulo.

The former CEO of Latin America's biggest construction company still has seven and a half years to serve of his sentence for organizing the systemic bribery of politicians to gain influence and contracts for Odebrecht in Brazil and across the region.

The scandal has implicated President Michel Temer and many of the country's top politicians.

Building everything from the Miami Heat basketball arena to a hydroelectric dam in Angola, Odebrecht S.A. is one of Brazil's powerhouses. At the peak of his career at the company founded by his grandfather, Marcelo Odebrecht was one of the most influential people in Brazil.

But in 2015 he was arrested and later convicted for his central role in the embezzlement and bribery scandal, known as "Car Wash," that three years later continues to shake Brazil's elite.

Originally sentenced to 19 years in prison, Odebrecht eventually struck a plea bargain, agreeing to testify in exchange for a reduced sentence.

Under the deal, 77 Odebrecht S.A. executives, including Marcelo Odebrecht, pulled back the curtains on their corruption scheme, which was so extensive that it required its own dedicated corporate department to manage the bribes.

For the next two and a half years, Odebrecht will be strictly bound to his home, receiving only family and a small number of other visitors. Restrictions will be eased during the second half of his sentence.

According to local media, Odebrecht's house is a 32,292 square feet (3,000 square meters) property within one of Sao Paulo's most exclusive and heavily guarded gated communities. It has a large swimming pool.