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Jailed former Rio governor admits he received bribes

RIO DE JANEIRO (AP) — Former Rio de Janeiro state Gov. Sergio Carbal, who long proclaimed his innocence of corruption charges that put him in prison, has admitted for the first time that he accepted millions of dollars in bribes while he was in power in 2007-2014.

Cabral is considered one of the most corrupt politicians in Brazil and has been in prison since 2016 serving a 200-year sentence for corruption, money laundering and tax evasion.

He had strenuously denied any wrongdoing, but in testimony released to the public Tuesday, he candidly speaks about the mammoth bribes that he and his inner circle received during his time power, sometimes delivered directly to the governor’s mansion. He details a kick-back scheme in which companies funneled money back to politicians in exchange for lucrative, bloated government contracts.

Cabral said he would tell an aide: “I want X percent of the contract (kicked-backed), 2 percent of the contract, 3 percent of the contract.”

One such construction project was the new Rio subway line for the 2016 Olympics, for which Cabral said all but one company hired for the project paid him bribes.

“It could have been cheaper if we hadn’t arranged this scheme,” Cabral said of the project, which cost nearly double the initial budget and was the most expensive single construction project of the Games.

In his testimony, which was filmed Thursday at the attorney general’s office, Cabral said several other Rio politicians benefited from the kick-back scheme, and he said also he “took care” of financing for an ally’s election campaign.

Globo television reported that the testimony came about because Cabral recently hired new lawyers and they wanted to change strategies.

After revealing the details of his criminal scheme, Cabral nodded his head and said, “You guys, I am very relieved, you know?”

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