BRASILIA, Dec 18 (Reuters) - Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff plans to issue a decree on Friday to speed up a process allowing construction companies involved in a major corruption scandal to regain the right to receive government money, two sources told Reuters.
More than 30 of the country’s top construction and engineering companies, including Odebrecht SA, Queiroz Galvão, OAS, and Galvão Engenharia SA are on a government blacklist for involvement in price-fixing, bribery and political kickbacks at oil company Petroleo Brasileiro SA, or Petrobras, and other state-run firms.
The government, unions, prominent industrialists and politicians want to renew the companies’ access to government money to prevent the worst recession in at least three decades from worsening, two senior Presidential Palace sources told Reuters.
The sources asked for anonymity because Rousseff has not signed the decree but is expected to on Friday.
Government funds, buoyed by a now-extinct commodities boom, irrigated the corruption scandal. The scandal has paralyzed Petrobras, the country’s largest company, pushed hundreds of companies to the verge of bankruptcy, worsened the recession and led to tens of thousands of layoffs.
Legislation permitting so-called leniency accords between the government and the banned companies, though, is stalled in Congress, which has been paralyzed by debates over the proposed impeachment of Rousseff and the arrest of prominent political figures as a result of the corruption investigation.
On Monday, Congress is due to go into recess until mid-February.
Under Brazilian law, the decree would allow the accords to go into effect immediately. Congress would then have 60 days to confirm the decree as law, or reject it.
When signed, the accords restore the rights of corrupt companies to bid for government contracts in exchange for an admission of guilt, providing evidence of wrongdoing, the return of stolen assets and payment of fines.
They do not expunge criminal prosecutions against companies or their officials.
Rousseff made he decision to issue the decree on Thursday after meeting union federations that form the backbone of her center-left, Workers’ Party-led ruling coalition.
Despite assurances from Congressional leaders to pass the legislation, Rousseff decided the political impasse could prevent passage in time to prevent further damage to the economy, the sources said.
Rousseff believes the decree will please the politically powerful construction industry at a time when she faces impeachment and rising attacks on her management of the economy, the sources added. (Reporting by Lisandra Paraguassu; Writing by Jeb Blount; Editing by Robert Birsel)