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By Lise Alves, Senior Contributing Reporter

SÃO PAULO, BRAZIL – Former presidential candidate, Senator Aecio Neves has been accused by an Odebrecht executive of setting up a bribery scheme to benefit contractors building the new Minas Gerais state’s government building in Belo Horizonte when he was governor of the state.

Brazil,Senator Aécio Neves has been accused of setting up a kickback scheme while he was governor of Minas Gerais
Senator Aécio Neves has been accused of setting up a kickback scheme while he was governor of Minas Gerais, photo by Marcelo Camargo / Agência Brasil.

According to national daily Folha de S. Paulo, Odebrecht’s former infrastructure director, Benedicto Junior told federal prosecutors in his plea-bargaining agreement that he met with Neves in Belo Horizonte and that the former governor instructed him to speak to a subordinate who would determine the percentage of kickbacks for Odebrecht to win the contract.

Benedicto Junior, who is part of a group of 77 Odebrecht executives who have agreed to tell all in exchange for lenient sentences in the Lava Jato (Carwash) corruption scandal, said that Neves’ aid determined a 2.5 to 3 percent kickback to the state government in return for being awarded the project.

According to the executive, Aecio Neves was personally involved with choosing the contractor to build the new administrative headquarters of the Minas Gerais government in Belo Horizonte.

The building, drawn up by famous Brazilian architect, Oscar Niemeyer, cost approximately R$2.1 billion at the time, was finalized in 2010 during Neves’ last year as governor.

The daily said Aecio Neves sent the newspaper a statement repudiating the accusations made by the Odebrecht executive and defending the end of the secrecy about the donations “so that all content is of public knowledge”.

According to local media in their plea-bargaining deal with federal prosecutors Odebrecht executives have named dozens of politicians to whom the company gave money to in exchange for benefits.

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