UPDATE 1-Brazil delays leniency deals in graft probe, calls for rigor
(Adds comment from lawyer, background)
By Caroline Stauffer and Anthony Boadle
SAO PAULO/BRASILIA May 17 (Reuters) - Brazil's new interim government is suspending negotiations with construction companies caught up in a massive corruption investigation in order to make leniency deals more rigorous and prove its anti-graft credentials.
Fabiano Silveira, Minister of Transparency and Oversight, said on Tuesday prosecutors and the federal audit court should be part of the negotiations of leniency deals, a change that would require legislative approval from Congress.
The deals, expected last year, would allow construction firms blacklisted for corruption to bid for new state contracts if they admit wrongdoing, collaborate with investigators and pay a fine.
They were previously negotiated by the CGU comptroller general's office, which interim President Michel Temer folded into a new Transparency and Oversight ministry.
A legislative change would delay the signing of leniency agreements - which some regard as a key ingredient to kick-starting Brazil's stalled economy - but would give companies that do sign more security against legal challenges.
"The more legitimate actors that participate in this process, the better," Silveira told Globo News television in an interview.
Thirty-one contractors, including Brazil's largest builders, have been banned from signing new contracts with state-run Petroleos Brasileiros (Petrobras) since late 2014 due to accusations they colluded to overcharge the oil company and used the extra funds to bribe politicians. Continuación...