Police search home of Brazilian Olympics chief

AFP
Brazilian police searched the house of the country’s Olympics chief yesterday on allegations that the IOC was bribed to pick Rio de Janeiro as host of last year’s Olympics.
AFP
Reuters

Brazilian Olympic Committee President Carlos Arthur Nuzman (2nd left) arrives to Federal Police headquarters in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, September 5, 2017.

Brazilian police searched the house of the country’s Olympics chief yesterday on allegations that the IOC was bribed to pick Rio de Janeiro as host of last year’s Olympics.

Brazil’s federal police and French officials, including well-known French anti-corruption Judge Renaud Van Ruymbeke, could be seen outside the house of Carlos Nuzman in Rio’s posh seaside Leblon neighborhood.

Nuzman himself was seen leaving by car, as police exited his house carrying sacks of evidence.

Police said they were probing “an international corruption scheme” aimed at “the buying of votes for the election of (Rio) by the International Olympic Committee as the venue for the 2016 Olympics.”

In a statement, Brazilian police did not give names, but said that 70 officers, joined by French officials, had fanned out across Rio to search 11 sites. Two arrest warrants were issued, the statement said.

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

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

In Lausanne, Switzerland, an IOC spokesman appeared to have been taken by surprise.

“The IOC has learned about these circumstances from the media and is making every effort to get the full information,” the spokesman said. “It is in the highest interests of the IOC to get clarification on this matter.”

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 (US$71 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.

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.

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

French newspaper Le Monde said that Soares had paid US$1.5 million to the son of one IOC member before the vote.

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