Thursday, April 22, 2021

Rio de Janeiro former mayor Paes faces Olympic fraud allegations

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Eduardo Paes – the former Mayor of Rio de Janeiro – has been accused of committing passive corruption and bid fraud during the construction of a venue for the 2016 Olympic and Paralympic Games.

The complaint, filed by the Federal Public Ministry (MPF) and accepted by the Third Federal Criminal Court of Rio, is related to the alleged direction in the bidding for the construction of the Deodoro Olympic Park.

According to the MPF, a consortium of companies was favoured in the construction of buildings in the northern area of the complex, as reported by Globo.

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This included the Olympic Whitewater Stadium, BMX centre, mountain bike park, hockey centre, shooting centre, Youth Arena and Deodoro Stadium, the construction of which totalled BRL$660million (£104million/$129million/€116million).

Prosecutors claim there was a deliberate intention to restrict the participation of different companies in the bidding race.

Around 40 contracts were allegedly interested in the tender, but the complexity of building a number of venues with different requirements meant only the consortium of Brazilian construction companies, comprising Queiroz Galvão and OAS, were able to submit a proposal.

It is also alleged that Queiroz Galvão did not have the technical certificate for the construction of multipurpose venues, with Pues initiating the creation of a consortium with OAS to circumvent this issue.

Prosecutors have also claimed that BRL$120 million (£19million/$24million/€21million) was paid to Queiroz Galvão for earthmoving services that were never performed on site.

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Only an “insignificant amount” of landfill was allegedly transported off-site, when more than two million tons were expected to be discarded.

Paes, who remained as Rio de Janeiro Mayor until January 2017, has rejected the claim.

He is set to run again for Mayor this year, on behalf of the Democrats, a Brazilian political party.

“It is very strange that such an absurd denunciation arises exactly when Eduardo Paes announces that he is a pre-candidate for the City Hall and leads the polls,” a spokesperson said.

“Paes reaffirms that he never favoured or demanded compensation from anyone in his term as Mayor, according to several testimonies given to the MPF by employees, in awarding statements made by the largest contractors in the country.

“Eduardo Paes trusts the country’s justice system and is convinced that the complaint will be rejected.”

It is not the first time that the 50-year-old Paes has been accused of corruption.

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Last July, former Rio State Governor Sergio Cabral claimed in court that he paid $1.5 million (£1.2 million/€1.3 million) in bribes through intermediaries to former World Athletics President Lamine Diack.

He made the bribes in an attempt to secure up to six votes from International Olympic Committee (IOC) members for the Rio 2016 bid.

Cabral told the court in Rio de Janeiro that Paes and former Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva had not directly participated in the scheme, but had been aware of what was happening.

Paes saw his assets frozen in December 2016 after he was accused of administrative impropriety, having allegedly waived a costly environmental fee for the company who built the Olympic golf course.

He was cleared of the charges when a judge dismissed the case in February 2018.

Paes has also had to fend off allegations that he received bribes from construction company Odebrecht in connection with Olympic and Paralympic contracts.

According to Brazilian newspaper O Estado São Paulo, the company involved in the majority of the major construction projects at Rio 2016 paid Paes around R$16 million (£2.5 million/$3.1 million/€2.8 million) for the “facilitation of Olympic-related contracts”.

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