Three construction companies involved in the renovation of Brazil’s legendary Maracanã soccer stadium were found guilty of improper enrichment at the expense of the state government, public auditors said Tuesday.
As part of a report conducted by Rio de Janeiro’s state auditing court, TCE, construction firms Odebrecht, Andrade Gutierrez and Delta Construes inflated the figures in a contract to bring the stadium up to date with FIFA guidelines by more than 17 percent.
The iconic Macaranã stadium seats over 79,000 people and is scheduled to host Olympic soccer matches as well as the competition's opening and closing ceremonies.
As a result of the TCE findings, the court allowed Rio’s municipal government to halt payments of up to US$60 million owed to construction firms.
“As we see, the objective was not just to carry out a soccer event, but to allow for the gross waste of public money,” auditor José Gomes Graciosa said in the ruling.
According to the audit, Odebrecht, Andrade Gutierrez and Delta billed the state government twice for particular expenditures, such as employee meals. They also overcharged the government for services such as pressure-washing, the Wall Street Journal reported Wednesday.
Odebrecht is at the center of the Petrobras scandal and is involved in over half of all Olympic projects by value, according to contracts reviewed by Reuters.
Five construction firms are building most of the US$10.8 billion worth of venues and infrastructure needed for Rio's Olympics. The figure includes at least 1.76 billion reals in federal funds, according to documents from Brazil's federal accounting court.
All five companies are caught up in an investigation into price fixing and kickbacks at state-run oil company Petrobras, a two-year probe that has seen scores of top executives and politicians jailed, charged or placed under investigation.
The Petrobras investigation is what led federal police and prosecutors to begin looking at possible corruption tied to the Olympics.