June 8, 2017 / 3:21 AM / 5 months ago

Dominican Republic imprisons suspects in Odebrecht case pending trial

SANTO DOMINGO (Reuters) - A judge in the Dominican Republic ordered several suspects awaiting trial in a bribery scandal engulfing Brazilian company Odebrecht to be sent to prison on Wednesday until their case is heard.

Angel Rondon (R), Odebrecht's commercial representative in the Dominican Republic, looks on to the judge's ruling, following the hearing before Supreme Court Judge Francisco Ortega, for bribes paid by Brazilian construction company Odebrecht to obtain public works contracts, in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic on June 7, 2017. REUTERS/Ricardo Rojas

Prosecutors allege Angel Rondon, a lobbyist for Odebrecht, oversaw payment of $92 million in bribes among government officials, lawmakers and others to secure major public works contracts for the Brazilian firm. He denies the charges.

Authorities in the Dominican Republic arrested nearly a dozen people last week over the case. The accused face a variety of charges, including taking bribes, conspiracy to commit a felony, and money laundering. [nL1N1IV0KI]

Among those facing prosecution in the case are Victor Diaz Rua, a former public works minister, and trade minister Temistocles Montas, as well several national politicians.

Montas denies wrongdoing. Attorneys for Diaz, who has been accused of taking bribes and other crimes, did not comment when questioned upon leaving the courtroom on Wednesday.

Judge Francisco Ortega ruled Rondon should spend one year in prison, and ordered other defendants to be incarcerated for between six and nine months. Others were put under house arrest or released on bail, barred from leaving the country.

The trial is due to begin in eight months.

Prosecutors across Latin America have been making arrests after Odebrecht and its petrochemical subsidiary Braskem admitted late last year to bribing officials around the region.

Reporting by Jorge Pineda; Editing by Paul Tait

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