German construction company Bilfinger says it is investigating claims employees in Brazil paid bribes to officials in connection with orders to supply security centers to Brazilian host cities for the 2014 World Cup.
In a statement released on Sunday on Bilfinger SE's website, the company said it had launched a "comprehensive investigation" into an outside auditor and a law firm's involvement in "suspected bribery payments from employees of a Bilfinger company in Brazil to public officials and employees of state companies."
The allegations relate to orders to equip security command centers at 12 host cities during the 2014 World Cup in Brazil.
The company said the probe, involving auditors Ernst & Young and Deloitte, plus a specialized law firm in Brazil, showed that "suspicions have now been substantiated," although the investigation has not yet been completed, such as how much was paid to each player.
The construction company is accused of paying bribes to secure a contract worth more than 20 million euros ($21.6 million) for the 2014 World Cup in Brazil through its subsidiary Mauell, reported German tabloid Bild am Sonntag on Sunday.
The newspaper reported that illegal payments went to local Brazilian politicians and officials from world football's governing body, FIFA.
FIFA dismissed the allegations on Sunday, saying it had no influence on the project, and refuted claims its staff were bribed.
"Traffic control and security centers in the 12 FIFA 2014 World Cup venues was the responsibility of local governments. Neither FIFA, nor their employees, were involved in the awarding of contracts for host cities or the federal government," it said in a statement.
Bilfinger announced on Sunday that it received internal communication last year and immediately started an investigation into the corruption allegations by Bilfinger in Brazil.
"The company and its supervisory board have an interest in ensuring this is cleared up," the group's supervisory board chairman Eckhard Cordes told Bild.
"If the allegations are proven, we will take action with regard to personnel and will initiate legal steps," an unnamed company spokesperson said.
At the 12 host city venues for the 2014 World Cup, Bifinger had over 1,500 security monitor walls and the appropriate software needed to run the security command centers for police, fire and emergency services.
jlw/msh (Reuters, dpa, AP)