Brazil top court orders Novonor to keep paying some installments on corruption fines

By Thomson Reuters Feb 9, 2024 | 5:14 PM

BRASILIA (Reuters) – The Brazilian Supreme Court said on Friday that Novonor must continue to pay part of the installments on fines charged to the conglomerate in a leniency deal for corruption offenses, even after some payments were suspended last week.

The decision clarifies last week’s ruling: since Novonor made two leniency agreements in Brazil, it was murky which fines the firm could stop paying and which it could not.

A 2.7 billion-real ($545.27 million) fine, agreed in 2018 in a leniency agreement with comptroller general’s office, must continue to be paid, according to the decision. It was not clear how much of the amount Novonor had already paid.

The conglomerate, previously known as Odebrecht, has signed separate leniency agreements with Brazil’s federal prosecutors and the comptroller general’s office over corruption scandals in which the construction company paid bribes to politicians in return for lucrative contracts.

Supreme Court Judge Dias Toffoli ordered suspension of the payments due to alleged abuses committed by prosecutors when the terms of the deal were signed.

On Friday, the same judge issued another decision saying the payments suspension includes only the leniency agreement signed with prosecutors, which was valued at a total of 3.8 billion reais in 2016. The amount has likely grown since then, and it was also not clear how much the firm has already paid.

The agreement that remains valid, with comptroller general’s office, was originally valued at 2.7 billion reais. But it too has likely grown due to a currency adjustment mechanism that is part of the deal.

Novonor is evaluating the judge’s decision, it said in a statement.

Toffoli noted he will reassess some leniency agreements, including Novonor’s, over the next 60 days.

($1 = 4.9517 reais)

(Reporting by Ricardo Brito; Additional reporting by Maria Carolina Marcello; Writing by Andre Romani; Editing by David Alire Garcia and David Gregorio)