The Argentine government continues to negotiate with Brazilian Odebrecht in order to get the company to reveal the names of the Argentine public officials who took bribes in exchange for awarding public work contracts between 2007 and 2014.
Justice Minister Germán Garavano met with the representatives of the company in the country yesterday and offered them a new plea deal, after having rejected the initial offer they presented the government.
According to La Nación, Garavano gave them an ultimatum to decide whether they will accept the conditions the government is offering. The negotiation is currently at a stalemate, as both parties refuse to compromise in reaching an agreement.
In fact, the head of the Anti-corruption office, Laura Alonso, decided to withdraw from the talks all together and wasn’t present for yesterday’s meeting and decided that the agency she leads will intervene as a plaintiff in all cases against the company.
Odebrecht had offered to collaborate in exchange of legal immunity, in addition to being cleared to continue with the public works the company is currently involved in and be allowed to continue bidding to get more contracts in the future.
The government rejected the proposal, which it considered “inadmissible” and illegal. Instead, it compelled them to sign a document committing them to collaborate and pay a fine of US $35 million upfront in exchange for allowing them to keep the current contracts and to continue bidding in the future. “We have to make it clear to them that they represent a corrupt company and tell them ‘I will let you continue working in Argentina, but on our terms'” a government representative present in the meeting told La Nación.
Should an agreement not be reached, the government is weighing the option of sueing Odebrecht and canceling all existing contracts between each other. “The only thing we can do is ask them to open their books, provide information and change their attitude. Otherwise, we will do everything within our reach to cancel their contracts and prevent them from partaking in any bidding process in the country,” the representative added. Odebrecht is set to provide an answer next week.
Garavano will travel today to the United States with the goal of getting information about the bribes that Odebrecht paid in Argentina, as the company confessed to having done so before American authorities. He will meet with counterpart Jeff Sessions and Prosecutors from New York’s Eastern District who investigated the Brazilian company.
Today is also the day in which the Brazilian courts begin sharing information about its investigation with other countries. According to Clarín, representatives from the institution confirmed that they will provide the first bits of information about Odebrecht’s activities in Argentina tomorrow, but requested they remain secret while the local investigations are still open. Four Argentine prosecutors will receive the information tomorrow, in Brasilia.