Eletrobras suspends Angra nuclear contract as contractors quit

by Reuters
Thursday, 3 September 2015 00:40 GMT

(Recasts with Eletrobras suspending contract; adds detail of previous construction-company pull out, Angra 3 history)

SAO PAULO, Sept 2 (Reuters) - Brazilian state-run utility Eletrobras said on Wednesday it will suspend for 60 days a contract with a consortium building its $4 billion Angra 3 nuclear plant after contractors asked to pull out of a project facing rising scrutiny from a corruption probe.

Construction firms Andrade Guitierrez and Techint Engenharia have asked Eletrobras to pull out of the ANGRAMON consortium building the power station west of Rio de Janeiro, Centrais Eletricas Brasileiras SA, as Eletrobras is formally known, said in a statement.

They join fellow ANGRAMON members Odebrecht SA and Queiroz Galvão Engenharia, which informed Eletrobras and its nuclear power subsidiary Eletronuclear of their plan to pull out of the project earlier this month.

ANGRAMON was responsible for the electro-mechanical construction at the plant, whose construction has been started and stopped several times over the past four decades.

The move by the construction companies, all under investigation as part of a giant bid-rigging, bribery and political kick-back scandal that began at state-run oil company Petroleo Brasileiro SA, comes as prosecutors and police launch charges against some of the executives of the companies involved.

On Tuesday, prosecutors charged former Eletronuclear Chief Executive Othon Luiz Pinheiro da Silva, a retired admiral, with corruption and money laundering. He allegedly took 4.5 million reais ($1.35 million) in bribes from engineering firms working on the long-delayed Angra 3 nuclear power plant. (Reporting by Caroline Stauffer and Guillermo Parra Bernal; Writing by Jeb Blount; Editing by David Gregorio and Leslie Adler)

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