RIO DE JANEIRO, March 11 (Reuters) - Brazil's Petrobras will receive cash recovered by Brazilian authorities as a result of their investigation of contract-fixing, bribery and political kickbacks at the state-run oil company, court officials said in a statement on Wednesday.
The federal court in Curitiba, where the investigation is based, has recovered 140 million reais ($45 million) from Pedro Barusco, a former executive at Petrobras' services division. The division managed contracts for large infrastructure projects such as refineries, production ships and fertilizer factories.
Barusco, who told Congress on Tuesday that he and the treasurer of the ruling political party had received kickbacks off of Petrobras contracts for more than a decade, has pledged to return $97 million to public coffers as part of a plea bargain deal with prosecutors.
More money is in the process of being recovered from banks and individuals in Brazil and abroad and will be held by the court until the case is closed and the cash can be returned to Petroleo Brasileiro SA, as Petrobras is known.
Prosecutors in Curitiba told Reuters late last year that Barusco and other cooperating suspects had pledged to return 420 million reais of bribe money, an amount expected to grow as more plea bargains were reached and the investigation advanced.
Separately, prosecutors in Brasilia are seeking more than 4 billion reais in damages from six construction and engineering companies and their executives for their alleged involvement in the corruption scheme.
A federal police agent told Reuters in January that the amount of overall money diverted in the scandal could surpass $28 billion, making it Brazil's biggest-ever money laundering probe.
($1 = $3.11 Brazilian reais) (Reporting by Jeb Blount; Additional reporting by Caroline Stauffer in Sao Paulo; Editing by Leslie Adler)
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