Odebrecht, Brazil´s biggest construction company, said on Thursday it had “erred” and acted “improperly” amid local media reports that the group had signed a plea bargain with investigators probing corruption at state oil company Petrobras.
The move came during a chaotic week in Brasilia, with the supreme court naming Renan Calheiros, the powerful head of Brazil´s senate, a suspect in a separate corruption case in a move that will shake up Brazil´s congress. “Sorry, Odebrecht erred,” the company said in a statement. “Odebrecht recognises that it participated in improper practices in its business activities.”
Expectations of a joint settlement by Odebrecht and its former employees with authorities over the group´s alleged involvement in the Petrobras scandal have sparked fear among politicians in Brazil.
Odebrecht was one of the biggest contractors involved in the Petrobras scandal, in which former executives of the oil company colluded with politicians and construction groups to extract billions of dollars in bribes from the group. Odebrecht was also reported to have agreed to pay R$6.7bn ($1.9bn) in fines over 20 years to Brazilian, US and Swiss authorities.
Meanwhile, 77 executives including former chief executive officer Marcelo Odebrecht, a member of the founding family, were signing plea bargains, reports said. The company and the executives were unavailable for comment. In its statement, Odebrecht said it would raise R$12bn from asset sales in the coming months and announced 10 measures to improve compliance, including increasing the number of independent directors and improving disciplinary procedures.
The potential fallout from an Odebrecht settlement for the country´s politicians was seen by analysts as one of the factors motivating Brazil´s congress this week to launch a bill attempting to clamp down on prosecutors and judges.
The bill caused a furore outside Congress and has increased the likelihood of street protests against the government of President Michel Temer.
On Thursday, one of the bill´s proponents and an important Temer ally, senate head Mr Calheiros, received a blow when the supreme court decided he would face trial over allegations he committed fraud to pay alimony for a child he had out of wedlock.
The senator responded that prosecutors had no proof.
While the case is unrelated to the Petrobras investigation, it will add to the rising political uncertainty in Brasilia.
After coming to power in August through the impeachment of his predecessor, former leftist president Dilma Rousseff, Mr Temer is seeking to gain legitimacy with attempts to rescue Brazil from its worst recession in a century.
The president is trying to push through fiscal reforms seen as essential to restoring investor confidence but his attempts are being complicated by constant corruption scandals.
Más información: https://www.ft.com/content/0ea31576-b831-11e6-ba85-95d1533d9a62?ftcamp=published_links%2Frss%2Fcompanies%2Ffeed%2F%2Fproduct
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