Panama charges 17 in Brazilian firm bribery scheme

PANAMA CITY (AP) " Panama's chief prosecutor says 17 people have been charged with money-laundering in connection with a bribery scheme involving Brazilian construction giant Odebrecht.

Kenia Porcell said Tuesday those charged included 8 Panamanian businessmen, five foreigners, three former Panamanian officials and a former private bank official.

As part of a plea agreement with the U.S. Justice Department, Odebrecht acknowledged paying almost $800 million in bribes to win business in 12 countries.

Odebrecht became the Panamanian government's biggest private contractor, winning $9 billion in contracts over the last 12 years.

Colombia has made two arrests as part of the region-wide probe.

And Argentina said Tuesday it was launching an investigation into the country's spy chief after a news report linked him to the corruption scandal.

This story has been automatically published from the Associated Press wire which uses US spellings

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