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Odebrecht presents Argentina plea deal offer

BUENOS AIRES May 9 Brazilian construction firm Odebrecht said it presented a leniency deal offer to Argentine judges on Tuesday as it seeks to settle investigations of its use of bribes to help secure lucrative contracts across Latin America.

In December, Odebrecht and petrochemical subsidiary Braskem SA settled with Brazilian, U.S. and Swiss authorities a record fine of $3.5 billion. In that settlement, Odebrecht admitted to bribing officials in 12 countries, including $35 million in Argentina between 2007 and 2014.

The Dominican Republic approved the terms of a plea deal, including a $184 million fine, in April. Odebrecht is also negotiating deals in Panama, Colombia and Peru.

"A broad and efficient collaboration agreement has been submitted to the Argentine Federal Justice system similar to those concluded by judicial authorities of Brazil, Switzerland, the United States and the Dominican Republic," Odebrecht said in an e-mailed statement.

Sergio Rodriguez, one of the prosecutors involved in the Odebrecht investigation in Argentina, confirmed the offer had been presented. In a late March interview, Rodriguez told Reuters Argentina lacked a legal mechanism for companies to reach leniency agreements, likely complicating a deal.

President Mauricio Macri's administration has asked Congress to pass a bill that would allow companies to be punished for corruption and also enable them to sign leniency agreements. (Reporting by Caroline Stauffer and Nicolas Misculin; Editing by Dan Grebler)

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