(Adds analyst comment)
BOGOTA, Feb 16 (Reuters) - Colombian holding company Corficolombiana said it had no knowledge of bribes paid by Brazil’s Odebrecht engineering firm in connection with a joint highway project suspended amid a Latin America-wide bribery scandal.
Corficolombiana has a 33 percent stake through its subsidiary Episol, in the Ruta del Sol 2 roadway project. Odebrecht controls 62 percent and CSS Constructores the remaining 5 percent.
The project was temporarily suspended by a court order last week until Colombian authorities can decide whether to declare it null, following a confession by Odebrecht that it paid millions in bribes across the region.
Odebrecht pled guilty in U.S. court and agreed to a $3.5 billion penalty for paying hundreds of millions of dollars in bribes in association with projects in 12 countries, including Brazil, Argentina, Colombia, Mexico and Venezuela.
”Grupo Aval, Corficolombiana and Episol were not aware of the acts committed by Odebrecht,“ Luis Carlos Sarmiento, president of Grupo Aval, which owns a majority stake in Corficolombiana, said during a Wednesday call with investors. ”We condemn those acts and we will continue to offer our full cooperation.
“Because we had absolutely no knowledge of our partner’s illegal actions, we have officially requested to be made part of the case as victims of the actions of Odebrecht.”
Corficolombiana shares have fallen about 20 percent since the Odebrecht scandal came to light at the end of December.
The Odebrecht revelations have led investors to re-examine their valuations of Corficolombiana.
“Recent events have increased uncertainty about the company,” Credicorp Capital said in a note. (Reporting by Julia Symmes Cobb and Nelson Bocanegra; Editing by Bill Trott and Chris Reese)