March 30, 2017 / 12:36 AM / a year ago

Argentine prosecutor sees difficulty in Odebrecht leniency deal

BUENOS AIRES, March 29 (Reuters) - Brazilian construction firm Odebrecht’s efforts to seek a leniency deal in Argentina are limited under the country’s laws, an Argentine prosecutor investigating corruption allegations said on Wednesday.

After striking a deal with U.S. and Brazilian prosecutors in December in which it paid fines and admitted to paying hundreds of millions of dollars of bribes in 12 countries, Odebrecht has been trying to sign additional pacts across Latin America.

“The intention of the company is to reach an agreement, but there is no legal mechanism for companies,” prosecutor Sergio Rodriguez told Reuters. “There are difficulties due to the lack of legislation.”

President Mauricio Macri’s administration has asked Congress to pass a bill that would allow companies to be punished for corruption and also enable them to sign leniency agreements.

Rodriguez said it would be easier to reach an agreement reducing penalties for individual executives who cooperate with the investigation in Argentina under the so-called repentance law.

Odebrecht said in an e-mailed statement it was advancing toward agreements in other countries in Latin America. Odebrecht has adopted measures to improve its commitment to ethical business practices and improve transparency, the statement said.

Rodriguez said Brazilian prosecutors would send relevant information from their investigation to Argentina in June.

Unlike in Peru, Odebrecht has not been banned from participating in future infrastructure projects in Argentina. (Reporting by Nicolas Misculin; Additional reporting and writing by Caroline Stauffer; Editing by Peter Cooney)

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