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Brazilian Police Arrest Olympics Chief Carlos Nuzman in Alleged Vote-Buying Scheme
10/05/2017 - 13h19
The Federal Police arrested the president of the Brazilian Olympic Committee, Carlos Arthur Nuzman, 75, as well as his main ally in the Rio-16 Organizing Committee, Leonardo Gryner, on the morning of Thursday (the 5th). They are both suspected of resorting to vote-buying in order for Rio to host the Olympics.
Nuzman is the only person in the history of the Olympic Games to preside over both the Olympic Committee and the Organizing Committee of the nation hosting the Games.
The investigation is a ramification of Operation Unfair Play, which is looking into the acquisition of Senegalese director Lamine Diack's vote for US$ 2 million.
According to investigators, businessman Arthur César Soares de Menezes, who, for a month now, is wanted by authorities, was responsible for making the payment weeks before the city was selected, in October of 2009, in Copenhagen.
Twenty Federal Police agents carried out the arrest, as well as 6 search and seizure warrants on different sites connected to the two suspects. According to the Federal Police, they "will be charged for corruption, money laundering and conspiracy".
The investigations will determine if Nuzman acted as an intermediary between the corruption scheme within the administration of Rio governor Sérgio Cabral (PMDB) and the members of the International Olympic Committee (IOC).
According to prosecutors, the bribe money paid to Diack was discounted from the money owed by businessman Menezes Soares, nicknamed "King Arthur", to the governor. The businessman received over R$ 3 billion (US$ 960 million) in government contracts.
In his testimony to prosecutors, Gyner admitted that he met with Soares in order to discuss sponsorships for IAAF events, the entity that is headed by Lamine Diack. The director stated in his testimony that the meeting was brokered by Governor Cabral.
After Operation Unfair Play was launched, the Prosecutor's office came across five emails in which Papa Massata Diack, Lamine Diack's son, inquired about money transfers that he was unable to trace.
"It's Friday, December 11th, 2009, and my bank Societe General in Senegal has yet to receive any of your transfers. I tried contacting Leonardo Gryner on several occasions, but he did not get back to me. Could you please verify if he is 100% sure that the transfers were made out to my addresses in Dakar and Moscow?", Papa Diack wrote in an e-mail from December 2009.
The Prosecutor's Office has stated that the messages indicate that "the payments went beyond the US$ 2 million [made in September], meaning there were other subsequent payments".
In a separate message, the Senegalese director's son stated that the delay in payment led to "all sorts of uncomfortable situations on our end with people who deposited their trust in the commitment we made back in Copenhagen".
The Prosecutor's Office says that it can only prove that Lamine Diack was bribed. However, prosecutor Fabiana Schneider stated that the Senegalese director had influence over other African directors, a factor that could have been decisive in determining the votes of other members in the IOC.
On November 26th, 2009, Gryner sent an e-mail to Massata Diack in which he said: "As I told you in Copenhagen, we have a different sponsor for this last installment".
"The sponsor is facing obstacles with regard to the transfer and we are trying to help him", wrote Gryner.
One month ago, Nuzman's lawyers stated that "the entire journey of the Rio Olympics, from its candidacy to the closing ceremony, was conducted in accordance with the law".
"HARSH AND UNUSUAL" ARREST
According to lawyer Nélio Machado, his client's arrest on Thursday was "harsh and unusual". Machado went to his client's residence in the early morning. Another three attorneys were already on the premises.
Machado said that he was "still trying to piece together the situation". Nuzman will most likely be conducted out of his home during the next few hours. Five Federal Police agents are at the director's home in Leblon, in the southern part of Rio.
Translated by THOMAS MATHEWSON
|Carlos Nuzman, President of the Brazilian Olympic Committee, is escorted by federal police officers after being taken into custody at his home, in Rio de Janeiro|