Brazil's Caixa lent Odebrecht at least $109 mln to finish stadium -report

SAO PAULO, Oct 9 (Reuters) - Brazilian state-controlled lender Caixa Econômica Federal loaned at least 350 million reais ($109 million) to Odebrecht SA in 2014 to help the engineering conglomerate, currently caught up in a massive corruption scandal, complete the Arena Corinthians soccer stadium amid a dearth of other funding, newspaper Folha de S.Paulo said on Sunday.

Folha said Odebrecht originally planned to raise 400 million reais in funds from state development bank BNDES and sell 420 million reais worth of municipal tax credits to fund the construction of the stadium.

Delays in the BNDES loan and legal action questioning the legal validity of the tax credits left Odebrecht with a large funding gap, the newspaper reported, without saying how it obtained the information.

The report underscores the problems haunting Odebrecht , Latin America’s largest engineering company, which agreed to help build many of the stadiums that hosted the 2014 World Cup - including São Paulo’s Arena Corinthians.

Odebrecht is the largest of Brazil’s engineering firms accused of colluding to overcharge state-controlled oil company Petróleo Brasileiro SA and other state firms for contracts, then using part of the proceeds to channel donations and bribes into the former ruling Workers Party and allies.

Prosecutors say there is evidence of bribes paid on soccer stadiums built to host the 2014 World Cup, and in particular the Arena Corinthians stadium.

Caixa agreed to purchase Odebrecht local bonds to help plug the funding deficit, with former Odebrecht chief executive Marcelo Bahia Odebrecht personally involved in the negotiations, according to the report.

Folha said Andrés Sanchez, a lawmaker and former head of Sport Club Corinthians Paulista, the soccer team that owns the stadium, confirmed the transaction but refused to detail it, because the deal was agreed between Odebrecht and Caixa.

Representatives from Odebrecht were not immediately available to comment on the news article. A phone message to a representative from Caixa did not get an immediate response. (Reporting by Bruno Federowski; Editing by Bill Trott)