Olympics

Ex-Rio Mayor Accused Of Accepting $5 Million In Olympic Bribes

The thing everyone assumed to be true of Eduardo Paes is true

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Apr 12, 2017 at 1:19 PM ET

According to a report in O Estado São Paulo, former executives from the Brazilian construction company, Grupo Odebrecht, testified that the scandal-ridden ex-mayor of Rio de Janeiro, Eduardo Paes, received over $5 million in bribes to help funnel construction contracts to the company prior to the 2016 Rio Olympics

Two Odebrecht executives, Leandro Andrade Azevedo and Luiz Eduardo da Rocha Soares, provided spreadsheets and sworn testimony, purporting to show that payments were made to an account identified by the nickname, “Nervosinho,” or “Twitchy,” which they claim belongs to Paes. A portion of those millions was then used to support the campaign of Pedro Paulo, who was Paes’s preferred candidate for federal deputy.

Supreme Court Justice Edson Fachin said in his ruling that of the total $5.1 million, “$3.5 million was transferred in Brazil and another $1.6 million through accounts abroad,” though Paes may not have received the funds personally. Justice Fachin named Leonel Brizola Neto, the current alderman of Rio de Janeiro, and Cristiane Brasil, the federal deputy for Rio de Janeiro, as two individuals who may have served as a way station for payments that ultimately went to Paes.

In response, a spokesperson for Paes flatly denied the allegations:

Via Around the Rings:

“Eduardo Paes affirms that it is absurd and lying to accuse that he received advantages by works related to Olympic Games,” the spokesperson said to ATR. “He has not vehemently accepted bribes to facilitate or benefit the interests of Odebrecht. And he reiterates that he never accepted any consideration, of any nature, for the performance of works or projects conducted in his government.”

Odebrecht has been at the center of “Operation Car Wash,” the now three-year-old investigation into corruption, money laundering, and bribery at all levels of the Brazilian government, major construction companies, and the state-run oil giant, Petrobras. On Tuesday, the Brazilian Supreme Court released the names of the government officials targeted by the investigation, a list including Paes, current government ministers and cabinet members, and embattled President Michel Temer’s chief of staff. An additional 108 individuals associated with the ongoing scandal will also be subject to investigation, according to the Associated Press, and 77 former Odebrecht exectives will be providing testimony as part of a plea bargain agreement.

Prior to the 2016 Games, Odebrecht was contracted to build half of the total venues and legacy projects, including the renovation of Maracanã Stadium and the construction of the main Olympic Park. The former has been rapidly disintegrating since the games ended, leaving the stadium a dilapidated husk, sold off to a French developer, and the latter required the destruction of favelas and resettlement of the local population.

In December, Reuters reported that documents acquired by law enforcement showed that Odebrecht had paid out over $320,000 in bribes prior to receiving the contract to renovate the ports in Rio and expand the city’s rapid transit system. Both projects were hailed by Paes and the International Olympic Committee as examples of the long-term benefit to hosting the games. The company has since pled guilty to U.S. Department of Justice charges that they created a massive slush fund between 2001 and 2016, dispersing $800 million in bribes.

Reached for comment, the IOC backed up Paes, according to Around the Rings. “These are allegations which [Paes] strenuously denies,” the statement read.