SAO PAULO, April 19 (Reuters) - A judge in the Dominican Republic has approved terms of a $184 million fine on Odebrecht SA, which sought a plea deal after admitting to bribing officials to win contracts in the Caribbean nation.
A São Paulo-based spokesman for Odebrecht told Reuters on Wednesday that the Brazilian engineering group had been notified of Judge Danilo Quevedo's decision to ratify plea deal terms with Dominican authorities. The accord is the first of about 10 that Odebrecht wants to settle across Latin America and Africa.
Reuters reported earlier in the day that Brazilian prosecutors will submit criminal evidence that their Dominican counterparts need to continue their investigation of Odebrecht.
In December, Odebrecht and petrochemical subsidiary Braskem SA settled with Brazilian, U.S. and Swiss authorities a record fine of $3.5 billion. Odebrecht admitted to bribing officials in 12 countries, mostly Latin America, to help secure lucrative contracts.
Speeding up negotiations across Latin America is crucial to Odebrecht, which is trying to prevent upcoming elections across the region from slowing planned asset sales and refinancing 76 billion reais ($24 billion) of debt. Prosecutors from 10 Latin American countries formed a task force to investigate the scheme.
Odebrecht and prosecutors in Panama, Colombia and Peru have made significant progress on the elaboration of plea deals, a person briefed on the matter told Reuters on Wednesday. The countries have for years been relevant clients of Odebrecht's civil construction unit.
$1 = 3.1491 reais Reporting by Tatiana Bautzer; Editing by Guillermo Parra-Bernal and Bill Trott