Odebrecht nears $2 bln plea deal in Brazil graft case

Oct 5, Reuters –  Brazilian industrial conglomerate Odebrecht is on the verge of reaching a plea deal that includes a fine of more than 7 billion reais ($2.2 billion) for its role in the country’s biggest-ever political graft scandal, a newspaper reported on Wednesday.

Brazilian business daily Valor Economico reported, without saying how it obtained the information, that Odebrecht would pay the fine over 15 years. The long-awaited accord is expected to provide investigators with some of the most revealing testimony yet about the vast bribery scheme centered around state-run oil company Petroleo Brasileiro SA, or Petrobras,.

Newspaper Estado de S.Paulo also reported that Odebrecht lawyers and anti-corruption investigators based in the southern city of Curitiba had traveled to Brasilia to complete a deal that is expected to be formalized by the federal prosecutor general and signed by participants by Friday.

Odebrecht representatives declined to comment. A spokesman for the federal prosecutors’ office in Curitiba said no deal had been finalized and the prosecutor general’s office in Brasilia had no immediate comment on the reports.

The vast portfolio and deep political connections of the Odebrecht group, which includes Latin America’s biggest construction company, have fed speculation that an eventual plea deal could bring down a huge swath of Brazil’s political elite.

In March, Marcelo Odebrecht, former chief executive officer of his family’s conglomerate, received a 19-year sentence for his role in the corruption scheme. Soon afterward the company said it would cooperate with investigators, who revealed an entire office within the group dedicated to paying political bribes. ($1 = 3.24 reais) (Reporting by Brad Haynes; Additional reporting by Anthony Boadle in Brasilia and Bruno Federowski in Sao Paulo; Editing by Frances Kerry)

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