- Title: Federal police in Brazil say arrested governor linked to kickback payments
- Date: 17th November 2016
- Summary: RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL (FILE - MARCH, 2012) (ORIGINALLY 4:3) (REUTERS) CABRAL GREETING GROUP OF PEOPLE
- Embargoed: 2nd December 2016 16:10
- Keywords: Brazil Rio de Janeiro Sergio Cabral corruption World Cup federal police
- Location: RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL
- City: RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL
- Country: Brazil
- Topics: Crime/Law/Justice,Crime
- Reuters ID: LVA00658U3L8J
- Aspect Ratio: 16:9
- Story Text: EDITORS PLEASE NOTE: EDIT CONTAINS MATERIAL WHICH WAS ORIGINALLY 4:3
Federal police in Brazil said on Thursday (November 17) the arrest of the former governor of Rio de Janeiro state, was linked to kickback payments.
Federal prosecutors accused Sergio Cabral of leading a criminal organisation that took 224 million reais ($65.6 million) in bribes from construction firms in exchange for awarding them infrastructure contracts from 2007 to 2014. His arrest is part of a corruption investigation linked to World Cup projects and other works.
The projects included the renovation of the iconic Maracana soccer stadium, where the 2014 World Cup final was held, building works in some of Rio's biggest slums and the construction of a major highway around the city's outskirts.
"We were informed about a scheme that consisted of Governor Sergio Cabral, the criminal organisation he led, collecting kickbacks from the companies involved in big projects carried out in the state of Rio de Janeiro," a delegate of the federal police, Tacio Muzzi, said.
Federal police and prosecutors are also investigating several infrastructure projects related to this year's Summer Olympics held in Rio de Janeiro. They have not yet taken any action on those inquiries.
"The scheme basically consisted of Governor Sergio Cabral collecting a monthly payment from the companies which in return received contracts for the big projects. The tenders were fraudulent, who would get the contract was predetermined, and once the state made the payments, these payments (kickbacks) were paid," Muzzi added.
Cabral is the latest high-profile politician to be arrested in recent weeks in a two-year corruption probe known as operation "Car Wash," which centres on a massive political kickback scheme at state-run oil company Petrobras.
Executives from several construction firms have turned state's witness and the companies have signed leniency deals. That has provided testimony about endemic corruption cutting across political and business spectrums, igniting dozens of new inquiries like the one resulting in Cabral's detention.
Testimony from executives of the construction and engineering firms Andrade Gutierrez and Carioca Engenharia was the basis of Thursday's arrests, prosecutors said.
Cabral, a member of President Michel Temer's Brazilian Democratic Movement Party (PMDB), was the focus of intense ire during a wave of anti-corruption rallies that enveloped Brazil in 2013.
Protesters at the time camped outside his luxury apartment for weeks, loudly chanting anti-graft slogans.
Amid the pressure, Cabral resigned his governorship in April 2014 with nine months left of his second term.
Operation "Car Wash" led to the political upheaval that ultimately toppled leftist President Dilma Rousseff earlier this year on charges of doctoring public accounts.
Cabral was a close ally of Rousseff and former President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, whose own trial on corruption charges in the Petrobras probe begins on Monday.
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