Brazil's top judge approves Odebrecht plea deal

Brazil's top judge approves Odebrecht plea deal

Brazil Economy & Policy US Project & Infrastructure Finance

The president of Brazil’s Supreme Court, Carmen Lucia Rocha, has accepted plea deals from 77 Odebrecht executives, a move that could lead to new revelations about the involvement of politicians and business leaders in the Lava Jato corruption scandal.

The details of the plea agreements have been the focus of intense interest in Brazil, where some testimony has been leaked to the press in recent weeks. One of the widely reported leaks involves alleged statements from former CEO Marcelo Odebrecht about a kickback and bribe scheme with lawmakers and other political leaders.

Some of the testimony is also believed to implicate allies of Brazilian President Michel Temer, threatening to rattle the government at a time when it is struggling to reignite the economy and push through a series of economic reforms.

The testimony will be sent to a prosecutor and is expected to remain sealed, the court said in a statement.

On Monday, Temer said Rocha had acted "correctly" by accepting the plea deals. He did not comment publicly on any testimony in the agreements.

The court’s announcement came on the same day that the one-time billionaire Eike Batista turned himself into Brazilian authorities in connection to the sweeping corruption probe at the state-owned energy company Petrobras.

Batista arrived in Rio de Janeiro on Monday on a flight from New York and was immediately taken into custody. Batista had been considered a fugitive for several days, after he traveled to the US last week before police raided his home in Rio.

"I have to show what is what," Batista was quoted as saying by Brazilian television network Globo before he got off the plane. "It’s time to clarify things."

Police accuse Batista of paying $16m in bribes to the former governor of Rio state, Sergio Cabral, in exchange for his backing of some of Batista’s businesses. Cabral, who served as governor from 2007 to 2014, has denied the charges. He is being held in jail as part of a separate graft investigation.