In a plea bargain statement, executives from construction giant Odebrecht said the company paid some $2.3 million in bribes to rig the bidding process for the renovation works at Maracanã Stadium for the 2014 World Cup.
The amount, directed at former Rio de Janeiro Governor Sérgio Cabral, as well as secretaries and members of the state's Court of Accounts, could have been larger had the deals been fulfilled, which did not occur thanks to the launch of Operation Car Wash.
At first, the contract for the renovation works totaled $227.7 million. At the end, however, the project cost public coffers over $387.62 million.
According to Benedicto Barbosa da Silva Junior, in charge of the company's Structured Operations Sector—as the bribery department was called—some $2.03 million were paid in kickbacks linked to the renovation works at Maracanã to Cabral, who has been in prison since November.
Odebrecht Directors Marcos Vidigal do Amaral, Leandro Andrade Azevedo, and João Borba said in their testimonies that $320 thousand were transferred to Jonas Lopes, then head of the state's Court of Accounts Jonas Lopes. The value, in exchange for the approval of the bidding rules for the renovation works by the court, should have totaled $1.9 million. After the launch of Operation Car Wash, however, the transfer, split into four installments, was interrupted, with only one of the payment being effectively carried out.
Azevedo explained that, despite the Car Wash probe, Lopes called for the remainder of the kickbacks to be paid.
“Late in , I was called by the head of the court and he demanded the payments to resume. I felt embarrassed, we were in the middle of Car Wash. I asked him politely to read the first page of the O Globo newspaper lying on the table [reporting the arrest of construction executives]. He was extremely embarrassed, and he told me he understood the situation perfectly, but added he was being strongly pressed by other councilors,” he said.
After being contacted by Agência Brasil, Cabral's lawyer Luciano Saldanha said the defense would only utter an opinion as part of the case proceedings. Lopes's defense, in turn, could not be found by our team, nor was the counsel for the former secretaries.
Translated by Fabrício Ferreira