September 5, 2017 / 8:21 PM / in a year

Odebrecht Peru asset sale hinges on debt payments -minister

LIMA, Sept 5 (Reuters) - China Three Gorges Corp will only buy a hydroelectric plant in Peru from scandal-plagued Odebrecht SA if the Brazilian company agrees to use the revenues to pay the project’s debts, Peru’s justice minister said Tuesday.

Marisol Perez said she expects the paperwork for Three Gorges’ planned acquisition of Odebrecht’s 456 megawatt Chaglla plant in northern Peru to be ready in about a month.

Odebrecht, at the center of Latin America’s biggest graft scandal, announced on Aug. 24 that it had signed a deal to sell Chaglla to a consortium led by Three Gorges.

“One of the conditions the company is putting on the seller, which we think is great, is that it pay off all liabilities,” Perez told foreign media.

“In this way, the money from the sale, about $1.45 billion, will go to paying Chaglla’s debt and the Chinese company would be buying a clean project,” said Perez, who added that she recently met with representatives of Three Gorges.

Three Gorges did not immediately respond to requests for comment. Odebrecht declined comment.

Odebrecht has been offloading assets as it faces billions of dollars in fines for bribery and bans on bidding on government contracts in some countries.

In Peru, the justice ministry must authorize the sale of Odebrecht’s assets and any transfers of its money abroad.

Perez said Chaglla’s debts make up nearly all of its sale price and include $100 million for state-owned bank Cofide and $30 million for Peru’s tax agency.

Revenues for the sale must also be used to pay a still-undetermined fine for bribery that Peru and Odebrecht must negotiate in coming weeks, Perez said.

Late last year, Odebrecht admitted to paying $29 million in bribes to secure government contracts in Peru over a decade-long period, part of corruption it has said it committed across Latin America and in some African countries. (Reporting By Mitra Taj and Marco Aquino; Editing by Marguerita Choy)

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