Braslia - A construction firm has admitted that a "cartel"
of firms fixed bidding for contracts to do work on stadiums for the 2014 Soccer
World Cup, Brazilian authorities said on Monday.
State antitrust authorities said the probe was linked to the
notorious Petrobras corruption scandal that has snared numerous Brazilian
"There is evidence that at least five public calls for
tender linked to work on World Cup stadiums were subject to a cartel," the
Administrative Economic Defence Council (CADE), a state antitrust body, said in
It said construction firm Andrade Gutierrez had spilled the
beans on the cartel activity after agreeing to cooperate with investigators in
return for being spared sanctions.
Among the building or renovation projects involved were some
on Rio de Janeiro's fabled Maracana Stadium and the Arena Pernambuco in Recife,
CADE said the probe was an offshoot of Operation Car Wash,
an investigation by prosecutors into a $2 billion corruption affair at state
oil firm Petrobras.
That scandal has sparked the resignation of several
ministers in President Michel Temer's government.
In the World Cup stadium affair, firms conspired to fix the
allocating of contracts in public tenders between 2007 and 2011, CADE said.
Andrade Gutierrez's chief executive Otavio Azevedo is among
the top business figures jailed in Operation Car Wash.
Another is Marcelo Odebrecht, head of the construction firm
that bears his surname.
He was reported earlier this year to have named Temer in
testimony to investigators.
CADE is investigating five other companies including
It suspects the firms agreed details of their bids between
them and made payments to each other.
The political drama threatening Temer deepened last week
with Odebrecht suspects lining up to make more potentially explosive
A source close to the firm said that 77 of its current and
former executives had signed a plea deal with investigators.
They agreed to cooperate with prosecutors in return for
lighter sentences, said the source, who asked not to be named.
Former Rio de Janeiro state governor Sergio Cabral was also
arrested last month on bribe-taking and money laundering charges.
He was charged with membership of a group that allegedly
embezzled $64 million from public works projects including the Maracana.
Temer was one of the leaders of the impeachment case that
drove their leftist rival Dilma Rousseff from office over unrelated claims of
Conservative Temer, 76, took over as acting head of state in
May pending the impeachment proceedings.
He became full president in August after she was formally
removed from office in a Senate impeachment trial.
Rousseff's predecessor and ally Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva
has himself been snared by the Petrobras affair.
Prosecutors have accused him of influence peddling by
helping Odebrecht win contracts after leaving office in 2010.
He has denied the claims.
The CADE antitrust court can fine companies up to a fifth of
their gross earnings if it finds them guilty of fixing the bids.