December 19, 2017 / 6:26 PM / 8 months ago

Billionaire Odebrecht in Brazil scandal released to house arrest

RIO DE JANEIRO/SAO PAULO (Reuters) - Billionaire Marcelo Odebrecht, the highest-profile executive imprisoned in Brazil’s massive graft scandal, was released from jail on Tuesday to continue his sentence for corruption under house arrest, according to a federal court.

Journalists gather around the car that supposedly carries Marcelo Odebrecht, former chief executive officer of Odebrecht SA, outside Federal Court in Curitiba, Brazil December 19, 2017. REUTERS/Rodolfo Buhrer

The former chief executive officer of Odebrecht SA [ODBES.UL], Latin America’s largest construction firm, was arrested in 2015 during an investigation dubbed Car Wash that exposed billions of dollars in kickbacks to politicians and executives at state-run companies in exchange for inflated contracts.

Odebrecht was set to travel to Sao Paulo to begin his house arrest under electronic surveillance on Tuesday, according to the federal court in Parana.

Slideshow (5 Images)

A representative for the former executive said he remained committed to collaborating with authorities under a leniency deal.

Odebrecht was first sentenced to 19 years in prison in one of the many cases related to Car Wash. That was reduced to 10 years after he signed a leniency deal last December in exchange for paying a nearly $2 billion fine, admitting guilt and providing evidence to authorities.

He has already served two-and-a-half years in prison. Under the deal, he must serve another two-and-a-half years under house arrest. He will then be permitted to leave his home for work for another two-and-a-half years. He will then be required to do community service for the rest of his 10-year sentence.

Separately Tuesday, Brazil’s antitrust watchdog Cade said it was investigating two alleged cartels involved in bidding for Sao Paulo infrastructure projects after receiving information provided by Odebrecht executives.

Reporting by Pedro Fonseca in Rio de Janeiro and Eduardo Simoes in Sao Paulo; Writing by Jake Spring; Editing by Jeffrey Benkoe

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