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UPDATE 1-Colombia regulator fines Odebrecht, consortium members $84.5 million

(Adds response from Corficolombiana and Episol)

BOGOTA, Dec 28 (Reuters) - Colombia’s commerce regulator has issued fines worth a total of 295.1 billion pesos ($84.5 million) against members of a consortium led by Brazilian construction firm Odebrecht for breaking competition rules, it said on Monday.

The Superintendency of Industry and Commerce (SIC) fined Odebrecht 175.6 billion pesos for its part in devising and executing a plan to restrict free competition during the award of a contract in 2010, it said in a statement.

Corficolombiana was fined 55.6 billion pesos, while Episol - a subsidiary of Corficolombiana and Grupo Aval - was fined 33.8 billion pesos, the regulator added.

Appeals can be made against the fines, the regulator said.

Corficolombiana and Episol have not been found responsible for the activities being investigated, Corficolombiana said in a statement, adding that the companies will continue to defend their legal position.

Odebrecht was not immediately available to comment.

Odebrecht has been at the center of a Latin American graft scandal, acknowledging in 2016 that it bribed officials in a dozen countries.

In Colombia, the company paid bribes worth $30 million in exchange for infrastructure contracts, investigations by the attorney general’s office found.

Odebrecht, Corficolombiana and Episol used an “anticompetitive system” to guarantee a contract was awarded to Concesionaria Ruta del Sol, the SIC said.

The regulator fined Concesionaria Ruta del Sol - which is in liquidation - 221.5 million pesos, it added.

Three former Odebrecht directors in Colombia and a former Corficolombiana executive were fined a total of 3.56 billion pesos, the Superintendency said, for having eased, permitted or tolerated the plan to restrict competition.

Former deputy Transport Minister Gabriel Garcia was also fined for his involvement in the plan, but will not have to pay the penalty after collaborating with investigators, the SIC added.

In December 2018, a Colombian court fined the Odebrecht-led consortium $250 million and banned it from government contracts for 10 years. ($1 = 3,493.77 Colombian pesos) (Reporting by Oliver Griffin and Nelson Bocanegra; editing by Barbara Lewis and Jonathan Oatis)

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