March 8, 2016 / 12:11 PM / 2 years ago

Odebrecht, OAS ex-CEOs mull collaborating in Brazil probe: paper

BRASILIA (Reuters) - The former chief executives of major Brazilian builders Odebrecht SA [ODBES.UL] and OAS Empreendimentos SA [OAS.UL] could strike plea bargain deals with prosecutors in the Petrobras probe, newspaper O Globo reported on Tuesday.

Marcelo Odebrecht, the head of Latin America's largest engineering and construction company Odebrecht SA is escorted by Federal Police officers as he arrives at the Institute of Forensic Science in Curitiba, Brazil, June 20, 2015. REUTERS/Rodolfo Burher

Marcelo Odebrecht and Leo Pinheiro are discussing the possibility of collaborating simultaneously with Brazilian authorities investigating a bribery scheme that involved state-run oil firm Petroleo Brasileiro SA, the newspaper reported, citing a source close to one of the executives.

A spokeswoman for Odebrecht, citing his lawyers, said Marcelo Odebrecht has not opted for a plea bargain deal. “He is, as he has always been, available to give the authorities all due clarification.” Spokeswomen for OAS did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

Marcelo Odebrecht has been in jail since June on suspicion of corruption and Pinheiro is under house arrest. Both could seek lighter sentences if they agree to a plea bargain deal.

Odebrecht and Pinheiro are some of highest-profile executives ensnared in the probe, with links to politicians, mostly from the governing coalition, according to prosecutors.

Newspaper Folha de S.Paulo last week reported former Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva could be named by Pinheiro in a possible plea bargain testimony. Lula was briefly detained for questioning on Friday.

Plea bargain deals are confidential until the testimonies are collected by prosecutors and accepted by a judge.

The strategy has been widely used in the sweeping corruption investigation that threatens to topple President Dilma Rousseff. Economists said uncertainty generated by the probe has helped to deepen Brazil’s worst recession in decades.

(This story has been refiled to changes date of Odebrecht arrest to June from July in fourth paragraph)

Reporting by Silvio Cascione Editing by W Simon

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