KEIR RADNEDGE REPORTS: Carlos Arthur Nuzman, president of the Brazilian Olympic committee and organising head of the Rio 2016 Games, has been arrested for a second time in a vote-rigging corruption investigation – this time amid allegations concerning gold bars held in a Swiss bank.
Also arrested under court warrants granted to police running Operacao Unfair Play was Leonardo Gryner, who was operations direction for Rio 2016. Both men face charges of corruption, money laundering, and organised crime.
Nuzman was arrested first in a series of police raids in and around Rio on September 4 as the spectre of bidding scandal returned to haunt the Olympic movement.
He was then alleged to have bought the votes of members of the International Olympic Committee when it voted in October 2009 for Rio to host the 2016 summer Games.
Operacao Unfair Play is based on information which the French judicial authorities obtained from their pursuit of Lamine Diack, former president of the International Association of Athletics Federations, and his son and associates.
Initially the French were chasing down allegations of Diack’s connivance with Russian sports officials over a doping cover-up. Their investigators were led them on down an electronic paper trail which took them to suspicious payments linked to the IOC’s award of the 2016 Olympics to Rio.
Shortly before the Olympics vote in Copenhagen sums were passed from Soares to Papa Massata Diack – son of Lamine and then an IAAF marketing consultant – and former track and field star and IOC member Frankie Fredericks. Papa Massata Diack allegedly received $1.5m and Fredericks $300,000 dollars.
Fredericks, who was forced to stand down as chair of the IOC’s 2014 Olympic evalation commission, has denied wrongdoing and said the payment was a business matter unrelated to the 2016 vote and the timing merely coincidental.
Nuzman, who has been ordered to surrender his passport, is also under investigation over a claim that he secured Russian citizenship and was granted a passport in exchange for his vote in 2007 to award the 2014 Winter Olympics to Sochi.
According to prosecutors, quoted by the Financial Times: “In the past 10-22 years of his presidency of the Brazilian Olympic Committee, Nuzman increased his wealth by 457pc without a clear indication of [where this came from], as well as maintained a part of his wealth hidden in Switzerland.
“For example, he only declared 16 bars of gold, each weighing one kilogramme… on September 20, 2017, after the start of Operation Unfair Play.”
A statement from the International Olympic Committee said: “The IOC’s chief ethics and compliance officer has asked the Brazilian authorities for full information in order to proceed with the IOC’s investigation, and has offered the IOC’s full cooperation.
“The IOC Ethics Commission’s activities started immediately after the allegations were made, and the investigation is ongoing. Given the new facts, the IOC Ethics Commission may consider provisional measures while respecting Mr Nuzman’s right to be heard.
Legal actions have been launched concerning a number of contracts connected to the hosting of the 2014 FIFA World Cup as well as the Rio 2016 Olympics.
In June Sergio Cabral, former governor of Rio, was sentenced to 14 years in jail for accepting bribes in exchange for granting sports venue construction contracts.
These included the redevelopment of Maracana which hosted football’s 2013 Confederations Cup and 2014 World Cup and the Opening and Closing Ceremonies of the 2016 Olympics. Judge Sergio Moro told Cabral that the city of Rio was virtually bankrupt partly because of monies diverted out of the public purse.
Rio de Janeiro became the first South American city awarded host rights to the Olympic Games in an IOC vote in Copenhagen on October 2, 2009.
In the first round of voting Rio came second with 26 votes to Madrid (28) with Tokyo third (22) and Chicago (18) eliminated. In the second round Rio (46) led Madrid (29) and Tokyo (20) and triumphed in the third round over the Spanish capital by 66 votes to 32.
Subsequently Rio officials made little secret of their strategy of targeting African members of the IOC in pursuit of votes. Senegal’s Lamine Diack, as a long-serving IOC member and IAAF president, was highly influential in African Olympic circles.
He retired from the IAAF presidency in 2015 and faces criminal charges in France.
Rio 2016, the Brazilian Olympic Committee, and the IOC have yet to comment.