Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Brazil's Corruption Crisis Spreads to Olympics amid Cover-Up Claim

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Brazil's Corruption Crisis Spreads to Olympics amid Cover-Up Claim

Article excerpt

Byline: Donna Bowater in Rio de Janeiro

THE corruption scandals rocking Brazil have reached the Olympics, with council leaders in Rio de Janeiro refusing to open an inquiry into spending on preparations for the Games.

Council president Jorge Felippe rejected a request to launch the investigation despite sufficient support among members for the move.

Jefferson Moura, the councillor who proposed the probe, accused Rio chiefs of trying to suppress it and filed a court appeal to overturn the decision. He said Mr Felippe had "overstepped his bounds" by denying an inquiry.

Allegations of Olympic sleaze come amid the wider multi-million-dollar corruption scandal, dubbed "Car Wash", that has spread to the highest levels of Brazilian politics and business and threatens to bring down President Dilma Rousseff.

The two-year Car Wash probe, which began by investigating inflated contracts within Brazilian oil firm Petrobras, has so far recovered close to US $3 billion (PS2.1 billion) and led to the arrest of dozens of politicians plus bankers and company executives. On Friday a congressional committee ruled there were enough grounds to continue impeachment proceedings against Ms Rousseff, who denies any involvement in graft.

In Rio, allegations have been made over bribes in contracts for work on Olympic legacy projects. Prosecutors have found possible evidence of kickbacks linked to the extension of the metro and regeneration of the port area by construction firm Odebrecht.

Last month, federal police executed 67 search warrants, made 15 arrests, and seized files pointing to a "parallel accounting scheme" to pay bribes, often to those with government links.

"There's no shortage of material pointing to irregularities by contractors constructing Olympic facilities," Mr Moura said. Many of the building firms implicated have contracts for Games projects, including Odebrecht. Last month its former chief executive, Marcelo Odebrecht, was jailed for 19 years for bribery, money laundering and organised crime. …

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