June 2, 2016 / 9:32 PM / 2 years ago

UPDATE 1-Brazil judge suspends Odebrecht lawsuit, in sign of plea deal

(Adds confirmation from court)

BRASILIA/RIO DE JANEIRO, June 2 (Reuters) - Brazilian judge Sergio Moro suspended one of several lawsuits against executives of engineering conglomerate Grupo Odebrecht SA for 30 days, signaling potential plea bargain deals with prosecutors investigating a massive graft scheme.

The suspension was confirmed by Moro’s office in an emailed statement. He wrote in a Wednesday ruling that he suspended the lawsuit “given the information there may be ongoing negotiation for some type of collaboration agreement” with prosecutors.

Testimony in plea bargains is confidential until they are fully collected by prosecutors and approved by a judge.

Analysts and political commentators have said that testimony by executives at Odebrecht, believed to be at the center of a corruption probe at state firms, could widen the investigation even further and possibly bring down top political figures.

The company said in March that some executives would seek plea bargains with prosecutors, a radical shift for the company, which had done little to cooperate in the probe that has targeted major political parties and contractors of state-controlled oil firm Petróleo Brasileiro SA.

Odebrecht is the largest of Brazil’s major engineering firms accused of colluding to overcharge Petrobras for work and using the excess as bribes that were funneled to ruling coalition politicians and, in some cases, Rousseff’s opponents.

Marcelo Bahia Odebrecht, the company’s former chief executive officer and scion of the family that controls the firm, was sentenced to 19 years in prison after being convicted of corruption and money laundering. (Reporting by Silvio Cascione in Brasilia and Brad Brooks in Rio de Janeiro; Editing by Jeffrey Benkoe and James Dalgleish)

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