Brazil’s federal police have searched the offices of a construction consortium behind one of Rio de Janeiro’s main Olympic sites as part of a probe into potential fraud, the police said in a statement.
Officials are looking at possible fraud in the transport and disposal of debris from construction at the massive Olympic site in Rio’s Deodoro neighbourhood, where the equestrian, field hockey, canoing and other events are to be held during the August 5-21 games.
The alleged scheme may have included the falsification of documents and price inflation, the statement said on Tuesday, without providing further details.
A report on G1, the interned portal of Brazilian broadcaster Globo, said a contract for the disposal of debris was initially estimated to cost $23 million, but ballooned to $42 million.
G1 also said it had obtained documents suggesting that more than a dozen drivers whose names appear in contracts denied ever having worked on the project.
As a result of the probe, a court has blocked $37 million that were earmarked to pay the Deodoro Complex Consortium, the police statement said.
Giant Brazilian builders Queiroz Galvao and OAS are part of the consortium. Both companies have been implicated in the sprawling graft scheme at Brazil’s state-run oil giant, Petrobras, which has ensnared some of Brazil’s richest businessmen and top politicians.
Prosecutor estimate that under the scheme, Brazil’s biggest construction and engineering firms paid at least $2 billion in bribes in exchange for inflated Petrobras contracts.
Despite the fact that many of the same construction firms caught up in the Petrobras scandal are behind the Olympic construction, Rio officials have long insisted the Olympic projects are clean and transparent.
The consortium issued a statement that it was cooperating with authorities and said the additional disposal charges were due to a larger-than-expected amount of debris, “which was not initially planned for in the basic project.
“That alteration did not impact the total value of the work stipulated in the contract,” the statement said.
The spokesman of the Rio Games’ organising committee played down yesterday’s searches, saying, “We have nothing to hide about the construction in Deodoro or in anywhere else around Rio.”