Brazil Federal Police Raid Olympic Site For Equestrian & Other Sports In Corruption Probe

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The Olympic equestrian center at Deodoro near Rio de Janeiro.
The Olympic equestrian center at Deodoro near Rio de Janeiro.

RIO DE JANEIRO, June 7, 2016–Brazilian federal police on Tuesday raided the Deodoro sports complex for 11 Olympic sports including equestrian seeking evidence that construction firms skimmed millions of dollars of government funding for the Rio de Janeiro’s Games.

The latest saga came just two months before the first Olympics to be staged in South America and after a string of setbacks ranging from construction delays, congressional probes into corruption on a massive scale, impeachment proceedings against the president and the Zika mosquito virus.

Mario Andrada, a spokesman for the Rio Olympics organizing committee, said the investigation would not impact building at Deodoro or its readiness for the Games.

Foreign news organizations quoted prosecutors as saying they have already found at least 128 million reais (US$37 million) in money diverted from federal funding for the Olympic project for work that either did not happen or was overcharged at Deodoro.

Federal police said they carried out several raids on offices of the consortium constructing the Deodoro complex where 200 horse and rider combinations dressage. jumping and eventing will be staged as well as offices of two companies working with the consortium, according to the Wall Street Journal.

The raids were the latest step in an investigation into suspected corruption involving Olympic venues and legacy projects.

The Rio mayor’s office was reported by the Reuters news agency to have suspended all payments to the consortium until the probe is completed.

Five construction firms are building most of the Olympic venues and infrastructure at a cost of 39 billion reais (US$11 billion). The same companies are caught up in the two-year probe of Petrobras, the state-owned oil company, that has led to scores of top executives and politicians jailed or charged.