Tadeu Filippelli, a former vice-governor of the capital and cabinet adviser, was among three senior politicians detained in Brazil’s latest corruption scandal
Tadeu Filippelli arrives at federal police headquarters after his arrest in Brasilia, Brazil, Tuesday. Photograph: Jose Cruz/AP
Jonathan Watts in Rio de Janeiro-Tuesday 23 May 2017
A new thread in the web of corruption investigations around Brazil’s president, Michel Temer, was revealed on Tuesday when police arrested a close aide for an alleged kickback scheme involving the World Cup stadium in Brasilia.
Tadeu Filippelli, a former vice-governor of the capital and cabinet adviser, was among three senior politicians detained by police during morning raids. The suspects are accused of deliberately inflating the cost of the Mane Garrincha stadium in return for bribes from the construction company.
The venue – which was used in the quarter-final and third-placed play-off of the 2014 tournament – was initially budgeted at $180m, but ended up costing $454m. After Wembley, it is the second most expensive football stadium in the world, but the 72,800 seats are almost never filled because Brasilia has no top-tier football club. Last year, the spectacular edifice was used as a bus depot.
Temer’s office said Filippelli was dismissed from his post as soon as the charges were made public. But the arrest adds to the pressure on the embattled president, who was formally accused by the attorney general last week of obstructing justice and corruption related to the sprawling graft schemes at major companies uncovered by the Lava Jato (Car Wash) investigation.
A secret tape recording released last week appears to show Temer condoning hush money pay-offs to the jailed former house speaker, Eduardo Cunha. It was part of a plea bargain by the heads of the meat-packing company JBS, who also provided evidence of bribery that prompted the supreme court to suspend another of Temer’s aides in Congress, Rocha Loures, and one of his most powerful coalition allies, the senator and former presidential candidate Aecio Neves.
Eight members of the cabinet are also being investigated for alleged graft related to the state-run oil company Petrobras and the construction company Odebrecht.
Temer has denied the accusations and refused to step down. “I won’t resign. Oust me if you want,” he said in an interview with Brazil’s Folha de São Paulo newspaper on Monday.
At least nine impeachment motions have been submitted against him in Congress, including one by the Bar Association. The president’s approval ratings have fallen into single digits.
The Brazilian public has long complained of corruption and wasteful public spending. In 2013, millions took to the streets to vent their frustrations about dire governance, focusing largely on the squandering of money on World Cupstadiums that were overpriced and unlikely to be well used after the tournament.
Their worst fears have been confirmed by recent testimonies from Odebrecht construction executives, who revealed that renovation costs for at least five World Cup venues were artificially inflated to generate kickbacks to politicians.