Judge sentences Rio de Janeiro Olympics official to 3 years for accepting bribes

A judge sentenced Julio Niveira, former president of the Brazilian Olympic Committee, to three years in prison, along with five other people, including current Rio de Janeiro state government administrator Paulo Nobre, for accepting bribes in exchange for awarding contracts.

Niveira was the face of the Rio Games and played a key role in finding venues for the 2016 Olympics. He left the games after four weeks when it was announced Rio de Janeiro had won the Games by a narrow margin.

Niveira had been under investigation for months and had never been charged. He had maintained his innocence and said he could not recall any payments he received in exchange for approving contracts.

According to court documents, he agreed to accept payments from construction companies.

Prosecutors said in documents that Niveira had agreed to accept payments totaling 6 million reals ($1.5 million) from constructor Andrade Gutierrez and construction firm Camargo Correa in 2014 in exchange for pushing a contract to construct venues for the Olympics to Andrade Gutierrez.

Niveira agreed to accept the payments in late 2014, as the bidding process for the $11 billion soccer World Cup and the Olympic bid was wrapping up, but did not know they would be used for bribes, the documents state.

Niveira also received payments worth 500,000 reals ($142,000) from construction company Andrade Gutierrez in 2014, the same year Brazil’s National Olympic Committee was planning to select a bid city for the Olympics. But when it became clear in April 2014 that Rio was going to win the bid to host the games, Niveira agreed to reject the payment and not influence the bid selection.

The five other people indicted included a former vice president of Andrade Gutierrez, two Andrade Gutierrez executives and a developer.

All six people were arrested and handed over to police in August. All have been charged with money laundering and defrauding Brazilians.

The Rio de Janeiro state government is facing similar corruption scandals and named Nobre as the temporary head of the state’s Olympic committee in July while Niveira remains in prison.

Nobre was charged with six counts of money laundering for the millions he allegedly received from construction companies for government contracts.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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