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Police make new arrest in Rio 2016 corruption probe

Brazilian federal police have arrested Alexandre Pinto, who served as head of infrastructure in the government of former Rio de Janerio Mayor Eduadro Paes, as part of an ongoing investigation into allegations of corruption surrounding the city’s hosting of the 2016 summer Olympic and Paralympic Games.

According to the Reuters news agency, Pinto has been detained on suspicions he took bribes during the preparations for last year’s sporting spectacle.

Police and federal prosecutors have said approximately $11.4m (€9.7m) in bribes were paid by companies that were responsible for building a bus rapid transit system in Rio to link the city’s main airport with Games venues. The firms in question also carried out work on sewage-infested waters near the Olympic village.

A statement from federal prosecutors said that a consortium led by construction firms OAS SA and Carioca Engenharia paid bribes to a number of officials at Rio’s federal Cities Ministry in order to free up city funds for the projects. It has also been alleged that officials were given bribes after the companies had been paid for the building work.

In response to the arrest, Paes said it would be “a great disappointment” if the accusations against Pinto were to be true.

Paes has also been implicated in the ongoing probe after the Brazilian Supreme Court in April opened an investigation against Rio’s former mayor, accusing him of taking at least 15 million reais in bribes related to work for the Olympics. Paes has denied any wrongdoing.

The arrest comes after Sergio Cabral, the former Governor of Rio, was in June sentenced to 14 years and two months in prison after being found guilty of receiving kickbacks in exchange for granting construction contracts in the city.

One of the projects in question was the renovation of the Maracana stadium, which hosted football’s 2014 Fifa World Cup and also served as the centrepiece of last summer’s Games.

In March, federal investigators also made a number of arrests in connection to alleged bribes relating to the extension of Rio’s subway line.

In addition, investigators in France are current probing whether money was paid to member of the International Olympic Committee in exchange for votes for Rio to stage the 2016 Games. The vote and subsequent award of hosting rights took place in 2009.