LIMA (Reuters) - Brazilian construction company Odebrecht, which has admitted to paying bribes in 12 Latin American countries, can leave behind all its ongoing projects in Peru within six months, the Andean country's president said in an interview published Sunday.
President Pedro Pablo Kuczynski, speaking to local newspaper La Republica, said the government was hoping to minimize the damage to ongoing public works projects that could stem from Odebrecht's exit.
"It's a complicated matter because it's a very large company that has various projects under way in Peru and, of course, there should be a gradual exit," Kuczynski said.
Odebrecht, which has been active in Peruvian infrastructure, energy, irrigation and industrial projects for nearly four decades, is being investigated for a massive corruption scandal that has ensnared the past three administrations.
Asked how long it could take Odebrecht to leave behind all its ongoing projects in the country, Kuczynski said, "I would say six months, perhaps less."
Kuczynski, an ex-banker who took office last year, had previously expressed his wish for Latin America's largest construction company to leave Peru and pay at least 90 million soles ($27.45 million) to settle the graft case.
Odebrecht admitted late last year that it had paid bribes totalling $29 million in Peru between 2005 and 2014. In the past decade, the company had been awarded contracts worth some $12 billion in Peru.
(Reporting by Marco Aquino; Writing by Luc Cohen and Nick Zieminski)