Dominican Republic ratifies terms of Odebrecht’s $184 mln plea deal

SAO PAULO,  (Reuters) – A judge in the Dominican Republic on Wednesday approved terms of a $184 million fine on Odebrecht SA, which sought a plea deal after admitting to bribing officials to win contracts in the country.

Dominican Attorney General Jean Rodriguez called the ruling by Judge Danilo Quevedo “a momentous step forward in the fight against corruption.” Rodriguez said Odebrecht will provide a list of those who accepted bribes by May 19, along with testimony and documents corroborating the accusations.

The accord is the first of about 10 that Odebrecht wants to settle across Latin America and Africa.

Reuters reported earlier in the day that Brazilian prosecutors will submit criminal evidence that their Dominican counterparts need to continue their investigation of Odebrecht.

In December, Odebrecht and petrochemical subsidiary Braskem SA settled with Brazilian, U.S. and Swiss authorities a record fine of $3.5 billion. Odebrecht admitted to bribing officials in 12 countries, mostly Latin America, to help secure lucrative contracts.

Speeding up negotiations across Latin America is crucial to Odebrecht, which is trying to prevent upcoming elections across the region from slowing planned asset sales and refinancing 76 billion reais ($24 billion) of debt. Prosecutors from 10 Latin American countries formed a task force to investigate the scheme.

Odebrecht and prosecutors in Panama, Colombia and Peru have made significant progress on the elaboration of plea deals, a person briefed on the matter told Reuters on Wednesday. The countries have for years been relevant clients of Odebrecht’s civil construction unit.

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