December 8, 2018 / 10:39 PM / 3 days ago

Exclusive: Odebrecht Peru agrees to plea deal with Peruvian authorities over bribery scandal - sources

(Reuters) - Brazilian builder Odebrecht’s Peruvian unit has signed a deal with Peruvian authorities to pay a multimillion dollar fine that will allow it to continue operating in the country in return for providing evidence about officials it bribed, three sources related to the matter told Reuters on Saturday.

FILE PHOTO: The corporate logo of the Odebrecht SA construction conglomerate is pictured at its headquarters in Sao Paulo, Brazil August 3, 2018. REUTERS/Paulo Whitaker/File Photo

Two sources said the fine would amount to approximately $182 million to be paid over 15 years. It would also admit that it paid bribes to win six contracts related to four infrastructure projects, they added.

The third source said Odebrecht would pay a total of some $200 million and the deal would include reference to a fifth project for which it has already admitted paying bribes.

Odebrecht has been at the center of Latin America’s largest graft scandal since admitting in a 2016 plea deal with U.S., Brazilian and Swiss authorities that it had bribed officials in a dozen countries to secure public works contracts, including $30 million in bribes in Peru.

The three sources told Reuters that the plea agreement with the Peruvian authorities was signed in the early hours of Saturday, after 12 hours of final negotiations between representatives of the prosecutor’s office, the attorney general’s office and Odebrecht in Peru.

The agreement allows Odebrecht to continue operating in Peru in exchange for its executives giving evidence against Peruvian officials and politicians who allegedly received bribes over almost 20 years.

Odebrecht’s representatives in Peru declined to comment.

After Brazil, Peru has seen the greatest fallout from the Odebrecht scandal. All four of its most recent former presidents, and its opposition leader, are under investigation in connection with payments from Odebrecht. All deny wrongdoing. [L2N1XB2F7]

In the agreement, Odebrecht accepts it paid bribes in relation to six contracts, two sources said.

Two involve the construction of a road linking Brazil and Peru during the government of former President Alejandro Toledo, between 2001 and 2006, while two more relate to the construction of Lima’s Metro under former President Alan García (2006-2011), they added.

Two more involved the extension of a coastal road in Lima and construction of a highway in the Andean city of Cusco.

A final contract, referenced by the third source and for which it has already admitted paying bribes, relates to a road project in the Ancash region north of Peru.

“The 15 years’ time frame was established for the payments because Odebrecht is technically bankrupt,” one of the sources said.

Peruvian prosecutors are expected to begin questioning several Odebrecht executives in Brazil in January, including the former head of the firm in Peru, Jorge Barata.

Reporting by Marco Aquino; Writing by Aislinn Laing; Editing by Susan Thomas

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