(In third paragraph corrects first name and description of
company chairman Emilio Odebrecht)
By Anthony Boadle
BRASILIA Dec 2 Engineering conglomerate
Odebrecht took out full-page advertisements in Brazil's main
newspapers on Friday to apologize to Brazilians for its
involvement in the country's biggest ever corruption scandal.
The apology by Latin America's largest engineering firm was
received with skepticism in a country with a history of
political corruption and crony capitalism, and many Brazilians
expressed their anger at the company on social media.
In a long-awaited leniency deal, the family-owned firm
signed a 6.7 billion real ($1.94 billion) agreement with
prosecutors on Thursday admitting guilt and offering information
on bribes paid. More than 70 of its executives, including
family patriarch and chairman Emilio Odebrecht and his jailed
son and former CEO Marcelo Odebrecht, have agreed to make plea
The bargain will allow Odebrecht SA to return to
bidding for public works projects from which it was banned for
its role, along with other engineering companies, in the massive
bribe and kickbacks scheme centered on state-run oil company
The deal also has Brazil's political establishment on edge
as plea statements are expected to name as many as 200
politicians who allegedly received graft money from the company.
Prosecutors said Odebrecht had an office dedicated to paying
"Odebrecht recognizes that it took part in improper
practices ... we connived with such practices and did not fight
them as we should have ... It was a big mistake," the company
said in its ad, vowing to mend its ways and turn the page.
The leniency deal, which spreads the fine payment over 20
years, will give Odebrecht a financial breather and help it
restructure debt-burdened businesses and revive a shrinking
pipeline of projects at its flagship engineering unit.
Some Brazilians were not so forgiving.
"No, you committed CRIMES! They were not mistakes! I won't
forgive them! They helped dilapidate the country. They should
pay," wrote Vicki Nox (@VickiNox)in a Twitter message.
"How many hospitals, homes, ambulances can be bought with
'Sorry, we made a mistake'?" tweeted Laiza Galvão
The political fallout from the Odebrecht bargain for the
scandal-plagued government of President Michel Temer has yet to
be felt, but the deal is expected to provide evidence
implicating numerous members of his ruling PMDB party.
(Reporting by Anthony Boadle; Editing by Frances Kerry)