Exclusive: Brazil investigating possible corruption at Olympic venues

Wed May 25, 2016 7:30pm EDT
 
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By Brad Brooks

RIO DE JANEIRO (Reuters) - Brazilian investigators have expanded their probe into possible corruption around the staging of the Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro this August to include all the venues and services financed with federal funds, a lead prosecutor told Reuters.

Federal investigations have previously focused on "legacy" modernization projects not directly tied to the Games but this newly disclosed probe includes Olympic Park and the Deodoro area where Olympic venues are located, federal prosecutor Leandro Mitidieri said.

"It's not just the physical works we're looking at - it is contracts for services, security, everything that used federal funds," he told Reuters from his Rio de Janeiro office late on Tuesday.

The Olympics were meant to showcase Brazil's rise as a global power. Instead, they will take place as suspended President Dilma Rousseff faces an impeachment trial, the economy suffers its worst recession since the 1930s, an outbreak of the Zika virus prompts health concerns and a massive corruption scandal infuriates Brazilians.

Mitidieri said his team is also investigating what happened to federal funds earmarked for cleaning Guanabara Bay, where Olympic sailing events will take place, and lakes that surround the main Olympic venues in western Rio's Barra neighborhood.

Those bodies of water have heavy sewage contamination and remain badly polluted despite promises to drastically improve them as a legacy achievement of the Olympics.

Another team of federal prosecutors, along with federal police, is investigating whether the Rio de Janeiro state water utility company Cedae committed environmental crimes by not properly treating sewage in Rio's metropolitan area of 12 million people, Mitidieri said.

Rio utility Cedae said it had not been notified about the investigation and could not make a comment without understanding more about the probe.   Continued...

 
Olympic and Paralympic Games mascots Vinicius (L) and Tom pose during the opening ceremony of the new terminal at the international airport Galeao, which is expected to receive 1.5 million passengers during the 2016 Rio Olympics, in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, May 19, 2016. REUTERS/Pilar Olivares