RIO DE JANEIRO: Odebrecht, the main construction firm of World Cup stadia in Brazil for last year’s World Cup, is at the centre of a new corruption investigation writes KEIR RADNEDGE.

Federal police are investigating allegations that local government officials were invoiced for up to an unjustified $12m to build the Arena Pernambuco in Recife Grande.

Odebrecht has also been caught up in the police operation investigating the corruption scandal surrounding the state oil corporation Petrobras.

The concern, in the stadium case, is of conspiracy to attract extra funds out of the National Bank for Economic and Social Development which assisted in funding stadia developments.

The Arena Pernambuco hosted five  matches: the group stage matches Ivory Coast-Japan (2-1), Italy-Costa Rica (0-1), Croatia-Mexico (1-3) and United States-Germany (0-1) and the second round tie in which Costa Rica beat Greece 5-3 on penalties after a 1-1 draw.

Operation Fair Play saw police searching and raiding offices of Odebrecht in Pernambuco, Sao Paulo, Rio de Janeiro, Bahia, Minas Gerais and Brasilia as well as the public-private partnership of Pernambuco Government.

Odebrecht, Brazil’s largest construction company, Odebrecht was responsible for four World Cup stadia.

In the case of the Arena Pernambuco, contracts were signed with state officials in February 2010 during the administration of former Governor Eduardo Campos, who was killed in a plane crash in August last year. The final cost of the arena was $201m, significantly above the original estimate.

The operation name referred to the opening of the Confederations Cup in Brazil in 2013. FIFA president Sepp Blatter had asked for ‘fair play’ from fans who booed President Dilma Rousseff in the Mané Garrincha stadium in Brasilia.

The president of Odebrecht, Marcelo Odebrecht, was arrested last June on charges of involvement in the Petrobras fraud which includes works on the Abreu e Lima Refinery, in Pernambuco, the Comperj petrochemical complex in Rio, the Petrobras headquarters in Vitória, the naphtha purchase contracts for petrochemical operator Braskem and oil exploration ships.

An Odebrecht statement said: “The company has full conviction in the regularity and legality of the project,” and the police raids were “unjustifiable.”

Police allege the company which drew up the tender rules in such a way as to discourage any other bids.

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