A Brazilian judge cleared South American industrialists José and Germán Efromovich of corruption and money laundering charges last Friday. The brothers operated several shipyards in Brazil and various airlines, most notably Bogotá based Avianca. Germán Efromovich (above) lost control of Avianca after defaulting on a loan made to him by US based United Airlines.
Last August, the two brothers were arrested in São Paulo on charges related to fraud in the contracts between the Transpetro subsidiary of state owned petroleum company Petrobras and the Efromovich brothers’ Estaleiro Ilha S.A. (EISA) shipyard in Brazil. The Efromovich brothers were accused of paying bribes and committing “irregularities” in the bidding process to win contracts, costing the government approximately $110 million USD. Ilha S.A. went bankrupt in 2015.
Judge Marcus Vinicius Reis Bastos, of the 12th Federal Court of Brasilia ruled that the prosecution’s case “does not contain a description of the crime and all its circumstances,” as “it does not indicate the antecedent of the crime necessary for the configuration of the crime of money laundering, or because it does not contain a logical narrative of the facts.”
Though briefly arrested, the Efromovich brothers were released to defend themselves. Born in Bolivia and of Polish descent, Germán Efromovich holds multiple citizenship and is well established in the Colombian corporate milieu, most notably as the former controlling shareholder of Avianca Airlines.