August 22, 2017 / 10:13 PM / a year ago

Brazil appeals court upholds Odebrecht unit's asset freeze

SAO PAULO (Reuters) - A Brazilian appeals court upheld a prior ruling that froze assets held by Construtora Odebrecht SA, a unit of the Brazilian engineering conglomerate Odebrecht SA [ODBES.UL] that has been ensnared in a massive corruption probe, dubbed “Operation Car Wash.”

A group of judges at the Regional Federal Tribunal of the 4th Region said in a statement on Tuesday that the freeze was due to the existence of “voids” in a leniency accord that Construtora Odebercht signed with Brazilian prosecutors at the end of last year.

Odebrecht declined to comment.

The freeze had been overruled once the leniency accord was signed late last year, but the federal government’s Attorney General’s Office sought in May to reverse the decision. According to the statement, while the validity of the leniency accord is under no risk, “terms of it might have to be revisited.”

The situation underscores the legal uncertainty surrounding plea deal and leniency agreements between large companies and government bodies.

Odebrecht agreed to pay 3.9 billion reais (US$1.2 billion) in fines after admitting to paying bribes for state contracts.

Reporting by Guillermo Parra-Bernal

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