Brazil police launch raids in Rio Olympics vote buying scheme

2016 Rio Olympics - Olympic Park - Rio de Janeiro, Brazil - 31/07/2016. Sunset in the Olympic ...
2016 Rio Olympics - Olympic Park - Rio de Janeiro, Brazil - 31/07/2016. Sunset in the Olympic Park. REUTERS/Nacho Doc

Rio de Janeiro police launched raids Tuesday against “an international corruption scheme” accused of bribing the IOC to vote for the city’s bid to host last year’s Olympic Games.

Brazilian law enforcement officials were conducting searches to probe “the buying of votes for the election of (Rio) by the International Olympic Committee as the venue for the 2016 Olympics,” police said in a statement.

Seventy police officers, joined by French officials, fanned out across Rio to search 11 sites and serve two arrest warrants, the statement said.

Globo television reported that police were searching the house of Brazil’s Olympic Committee chief, Carlos Nuzman, in Rio’s posh Leblon neighborhood.

Nuzman, who headed Rio’s successful bid to become the first South American host of the Olympics, was due to be questioned later, Globo said.

According to the report from Brazil’s biggest news organization, Nuzman is suspected of taking direct part in bribery of the International Olympic Committee and of acting as an intermediary between bribe givers and takers.

Arrest warrants were issued against two other people, Globo reported.

The Rio games were generally credited with being a sporting and organizational success, but revelations of massive corruption during the preparations have tarnished the legacy.

In June, former Rio governor Sergio Cabral was sentenced to 14 years prison. He was convicted of bribery and money laundering, including participation in the embezzlement of 220 million reais ($64 million) from public works projects such as Rio’s iconic Maracana football stadium.

The probe into the alleged vote buying, dubbed “Unfair Play,” started nine months ago, police said. Brazil had asked France and the United States for help.

A press conference was due to be held later to give more details about the scheme and who was being targeted.

Globo reported that the two people wanted for arrest included businessman Arthur Soares, who won lucrative contracts from Rio’s government in the spending spree ahead of the Olympics. He was reported to be living in Miami.

French authorities have been conducting their own probe into the awarding of the 2016 games. Rio won hosting rights in at a 2009 vote of IOC members in Copenhagen, beating Chicago, Madrid and Tokyo.

The French newspaper Le Monde reported that Soares, know in Brazil as “King Arthur,” had paid $1.5 million to the son of one IOC member before the vote.

The payment was made to Papa Massata Diack, whose father Lamine Diack was head of the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) at the time, Le Monde reported.


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