UPDATE 1-Brazil speeds leniency for corrupt firms to save jobs
(Adds president signing decree, her comments)
By Lisandra Paraguassu
BRASILIA Dec 18 (Reuters) - Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff issued a decree on Friday aimed at speeding up a process allowing construction companies involved in a major corruption scandal to regain the right to receive government money, a move she says will protect jobs.
The decree, also known as a "provisional measure," clarifies the rules by which companies blacklisted for their role in the scandal can negotiate so called leniency accords.
The accords will allow the firms to get off the blacklist, a move Rousseff and the companies consider essential to stave off bankruptcy and keep work on essential infrastructure projects moving as the economy shrinks.
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 Petrobras and other state-run firms.
The scandal has paralyzed Petroleo Brasileiro SA, Brazil's largest company, which cut off payments to the blacklisted companies. That in turn left hundreds of suppliers on the verge of bankruptcy and led to tens of thousands of layoffs.
"The main objective of this measure is to reduce uncertainty and preserve jobs. Its aims to speed up leniency agreements to unblock the economy," Rousseff said at the decree-signing.
Rousseff vowed to fight corruption and make sure the forgiven companies repair the damage done to Brazilian society by repaying graft money. But she also said her government had to avoid causing greater damage to Brazil's stalled economy. Continuación...