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Brazil's Odebrecht employees sign plea, leniency deals over corruption

By Andrew V. Pestano
Brazil's Odebrecht employees sign plea, leniency deals over corruption
More than 60 employees of Brazil's Odebrecht construction firm, including company CEO Marcelo Odebrecht, signed a plea deal and leniency agreement on Wednesday as prosecutors hope to use their testimony to implicate more than 130 politicians in corruption. Photo courtesy of Odebrecht

BRASILIA, Brazil, Nov. 23 (UPI) -- Brazil's Odebrecht construction firm on Wednesday signed a plea deal and leniency agreement with prosecutors over the Petrobras corruption scandal.

Marcelo Odebrecht, the Brazilian company CEO and tycoon sentenced in March to 19 years in prison, and more than 60 Odebrecht employees signed the agreements with Brazilian prosecutors, O Globo reported.

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At least 130 politicians from all major political parties, including former and current governors, deputies, senators and ministers, are expected to be implicated in corruption allegations by Odebrecht leaders and employees.

The company is also seeking leniency agreements with the United States and Switzerland, where it laundered illicit funds.

The Odebrecht group, founded by Odebrecht's family, is considered one of the largest construction conglomerates in Latin America. It previously employed about 181,000 people in 21 different countries across South America and Africa.

Dozens of Brazilian business leaders and politicians have been indicted for corruption, money laundering and racketeering over the scandal in Petrobras, a semi-public oil and gas company.

Odebrecht, once connected to top politicians, was found guilty of money laundering, corruption and taking part in a criminal association. He was convicted of paying more than $30 million in bribes in order to secure contracts.

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In 2015, the Brazilian economy was nearly 5 percent smaller than it was the previous year. The Petrobras scandal is partly to blame because it led to decreases in foreign investment.

Top politicians, including former presidents, have also been accused of corruption.

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