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By Lise Alves, Senior Contributing Reporter

SÃO PAULO, BRAZIL – A Rio de Janeiro audit court has ordered the state’s finance secretary to withhold more than R$198.5 million owed to construction companies due to irregularities found in an audit for their work in renovating world-famous Maracanã soccer stadium for the 2014 World Cup.

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The Maracanã, Rio’s famous stadium, will host the final of the 2016 Olympic football competition, photo courtesy of Wikicommons Creative License.

According to the ruling, construction giants Norberto Oderbrecht, Andrade Gutierrez and Delta overinflated their prices even after a federal fiscal tax break was given to the companies for their work. According to officials these companies may have received as much as R$95 million extra in payments.

The courts now want the firms to pay back the extra money given or present their defense in the next thirty days. The audit court said governing officials made the extra payments due a ‘lack of planning’ and criticized the state for ‘giving in to FIFA (international soccer governing body) demands’.

The renovation, originally estimated at R$705 million, totaled approximately R$1.2 billion. According to Judge José Gomes Graciosa, it would have been better to spend the amount on health and education than in the stadium.

Construction companies Andrade Gutierrez and Odebrecht announced they would not comment on the decision, while Delta stated that it no longer has any contracts with the state and therefore there were no credits to be withheld. Delta filed for judicial recovery in June of 2015 and sold its assets to Spanish group Essentium.

All three construction companies have been linked to the Lava-Jato mega-corruption scandal.

The Maracanã stadium will host the opening and closing ceremonies of the 2016 Olympic Games in August as well men’s and women’s football (soccer) competition.

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