Odebrecht cooperates with Brazil probe after bribe scheme exposed

Caroline Stauffer and Guillermo Parra-Bernal – Reuters, 03/22/2016

Grupo Odebrecht SA [ODBES.UL], the engineering firm at the heart of Brazil’s biggest ever graft probe, on Tuesday agreed to cooperate with prosecutors, in a move likely to send shockwaves across political parties that for years illegally siphoned money from state contracts.

Executives at Salvador, Brazil-based Odebrecht targeted by the probe, known as “Operation Car Wash,” will ask for plea bargain deals with prosecutors, a company statement said. It marked a radical shift for Odebrecht, which had previously done little to cooperate in the two-year-old probe. The company said the decision was made to help “build a better Brazil.”

The news came as the team of investigators in the probe on Tuesday uncovered systematic corruption at Odebrecht, with an office to pay bribes on work for World Cup soccer stadiums and Olympics legacy projects. Raids carried out at dawn uncovered a parallel bribery scheme that helped extract money from state-controlled oil producer Petróleo Brasileiro SA, or Petrobras PETR4.SA.

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