INSIGHT-Brazilian companies push for deal to minimize Petrobras scandal
By Brian Winter
SAO PAULO Feb 20 (Reuters) - Some of the companies caught up in a massive corruption scandal at state-run oil firm Petrobras are quietly pressing Brazil's government and judiciary to strike a "grand bargain" to minimize the legal fallout, five sources with knowledge of the talks say.
The companies, which prosecutors suspect of paying out billions of dollars in bribes through service contracts they had with Petrobras, are worried the investigation is too far-reaching and could drag on for years, heavily damaging their bottom lines and Brazil's fragile economy.
They are not trying to escape punishment altogether but are pressing judges and officials in President Dilma Rousseff's government, sometimes through intermediaries or at informal meetings, to find a way for any penalties to be definitive and applied quickly, the sources told Reuters.
"There has to be a way to say 'We screwed up' without ... it destroying us and others," a source from one of the companies said.
The sources spoke with Reuters on the condition that neither they nor the companies involved in the talks be named, so they could describe their strategies for dealing with and getting past Brazil's biggest-ever corruption scandal.
While questions abound over the legality and political viability of some ideas, and there is some disagreement among the companies and even their shareholders about what path to take, the sources said several proposals on accelerating a solution have been put forth to officials. They include:
* A more active government role in coordinating a settlement among the nearly two dozen companies implicated in the scheme.
* Enforcement of more restrictive guidelines on how police and prosecutors detain and question suspects in the case. Continuación...