Brazil police raid World Cup arena, Odebrecht offices in fraud probe
RIO DE JANEIRO Aug 14 (Reuters) - Police raided a stadium in the northeastern city of Recife and other offices around Brazil on Friday as part of an investigation into fraud in contracting for the arena, which was built for the 2014 FIFA World Cup soccer tournament.
In a statement, federal police said contracts for the Arena Pernambuco, built and operated by a consortium led by contractor Odebrecht SA, were overpriced by as much as 42.8 million reais ($12.26 million).
Police said that the overpriced contracts amounted to fraud and a lack of transparency meant to distort bidding among competitors in the stadium project.
Odebrecht, Latin America's biggest builder and a company with a long history of major infrastructure and other public construction projects, was also at the center of a corruption probe around state-run oil company Petroleo Brasileiro SA, or Petrobras.
The company on Friday confirmed the raids, but in a statement called them "unjustified." Odebrecht has "full faith in the norms and legality" of the stadium project, it added.
Marcelo Odebrecht, the company's chief executive and grandson of its founder, is one of dozens of senior Brazilian corporate and political figures ensnared in the Petrobras scandal, in which contractors agreed to overpriced jobs in exchange for kickbacks.
Police said they were conducting searches at the stadium, corporate offices and homes of consortium executives in the states of Pernambuco, Bahia, Minas Gerais, Sao Paulo, Rio de Janeiro and Brasilia, Brazil's capital.
($1 = 3.49 Brazilian reais) (Reporting by Paulo Prada; Editing by Grant McCool)
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