May 5, 2016 / 8:57 PM / in a year

Rio mayor assures Olympics not impacted by graft, political turmoil

2016 Rio Olympic Games Organising Committee President Carlos Arthur Nuzman (R) translates the speech of Rio de Janeiro's Mayor Eduardo Paes (L) to International Olympic Committee (IOC) Evaluation Commission head Nawal El Moutawakel during the inauguration ceremony of the Main Press Center at the 2016 Rio Olympics park in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, April 11, 2016. REUTERS/Ricardo Moraes

RIO DE JANEIRO (Reuters) - Rio de Janeiro’s mayor said Thursday preparations for the Olympics will not be impacted by Brazil’s political turbulence, and he guaranteed there was zero corruption in the city’s projects for the games.

Mayor Eduardo Paes told Reuters he had already spoken with Brazil’s Vice President Michel Temer, who could become the country’s leader next week if the Senate votes to suspend President Dilma Rousseff from office and move forward with the impeachment process against her.

Paes, a member of Temer’s Brazilian Democratic Movement Party (PMDB), said he was assured by Temer that regardless of who is in the presidency, the Olympic Games will have the full support of the federal government.

“I think the Olympics is above governments and particular officials,” Paes said. “I don’t see any risk for the Olympics because of these political problems.”

NO GRAFT IN GAMES

Despite federal investigators telling Reuters recently that they are probing alleged corruption in Olympic projects, Paes said he was confident that no problems would be found with anything under his responsibility.

Federal prosecutor Carlos Lima is a leader of a task force that has steered Brazil’s biggest-ever corruption investigation involving a massive kickback scheme at state-run oil company Petrobras.

He said that in addition to suspicions of corruption in the expansion of Rio’s metro and the revitalization of a port area, projects directly linked to the Olympics were being investigated. However, Lima would not provide details on what specific projects.

Preparations for the Olympics are overwhelmingly under the responsibility of Paes’ municipal government, and most of the builders involved in projects for the Games’ infrastructure are companies that have been caught up in the wider Petrobras graft probe.

Paes emphasized he could not vouch for any specific Olympic project that was under the control of Rio’s state or the Brazilian federal government.

“I can say there is no corruption scheme in the work the city did,” the mayor said. “I guarantee that it does not exist.”

Paes said that the construction firms ensnared in the Petrobras probe carried out corrupt acts elsewhere “because there was a corrupt and passive public official, but here we don’t have that.”

Writing by Brad Brooks; Editing by Bernard Orr

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