CASH FOR VOTES

IOC probe me­dia claims of cor­rup­tion in bid to host 2016 Rio Olympics

New Straits Times - - Sport - RIO DE JANEIRO

OR­GAN­IS­ERS of the 2016 Rio Olympics de­nied on Fri­day that vote buy­ing helped to se­cure the Games af­ter a French news­pa­per re­ported that a Brazil­ian busi­ness­man made pay­ments to the son of an In­ter­na­tional Olympic Com­mit­tee (IOC) mem­ber be­fore the vote.

Le Monde said a com­pany linked to Brazil­ian busi­ness­man Arthur Ce­sar de Menezes Soares Filho paid US$1.5 mil­lion (RM6.75 mil­lion) to Papa Mas­sata Di­ack, son of Lamine Di­ack who was then In­ter­na­tional As­so­ci­a­tion of Ath­let­ics Fed­er­a­tions (IAAF) president, three days be­fore the 2009 de­ci­sion on the host city for the 2016 Games.

Rio lost the first vote to Madrid but bounced back to win the nom­i­na­tion on a third bal­lot, by 66 votes to 32.

A rep­re­sen­ta­tive for Menezes Soares Filho could not be im­me­di­ately reached for comment.

Le Monde also re­ported that Papa Mas­sata had paid almost US$300,000 to prom­i­nent IOC mem­ber Frankie Fred­er­icks, who said he has done noth­ing wrong and that the money was for “ser­vices ren­dered” to pro­mote the sport in Africa.

The IOC said on Fri­day that their com­mis­sion has started in­ves­ti­gat­ing the al­le­ga­tions.

“The IOC re­main fully com­mit­ted to clar­i­fy­ing this sit­u­a­tion, work­ing in co­op­er­a­tion with the (French) pros­e­cu­tor,” the or­gan­i­sa­tion said in a state­ment.

Rio 2016 Games spokesman Mario An­drada said: “The vote was clean. Rio’s vic­tory was very clear. The French in­ves­ti­ga­tion con­cerns six mem­bers of the IOC and six mem­bers would not have changed the re­sult at all.”

Le Monde said that three days be­fore the Oc­to­ber 2009 vote in Copen­hagen, Pamodzi Con­sult­ing, a com­pany owned by Papa Mas­sata, re­ceived the US$1.5 mil­lion pay­ment from Mat­lock Cap­i­tal Group, a hold­ing com­pany based in the Bri­tish Vir­gin Is­lands.

Papa Mas­sata, whose fa­ther Lamine is await­ing trial in France on ag­gra­vated money laun­der­ing and cor­rup­tion charges, also re­ceived US$500,000 from Mat­lock Cap­i­tal Group through a Rus­sian bank ac­count, Le Monde added.

Papa Mas­sata was banned for life from ath­let­ics last year over multi-mil­lion dollar cor­rup­tion claims.

He was not im­me­di­ately avail­able to comment but has pre­vi­ously de­nied any in­volve­ment in bribery or cor­rup­tion and says his fa­ther Lamine is also in­no­cent.

Le Monde said Papa Mas­sata trans­ferred almost US$300,000 to a com­pany linked to Fred­er­icks, a mul­ti­ple Olympic and world medal­list over 100 and 200 me­tres.

Namib­ian Fred­er­icks, now a

mem­ber of the IAAF’s rul­ing coun­cil who also heads the IOC eval­u­a­tion com­mis­sion for the 2024 Olympic bids, told Le

Monde the money was paid for work he did to pro­mote ath­let­ics in Africa be­tween 2007 and 2011.

“The pay­ment has noth­ing what­so­ever to do with the Olympic Games and I was not an IAAF board mem­ber at the time and did not breach any reg­u­la­tion or rule of ethics,” he told Le

Monde.

The IOC said: “As far as Mr Fred­er­icks is con­cerned, he in­formed the IOC and ex­plained the sit­u­a­tion and em­pha­sised his in­no­cence im­me­di­ately upon be­ing con­tacted by the jour­nal­ist.

“The IOC trust that Mr Fred­er­icks will bring all the el­e­ments to prove his in­no­cence against these al­le­ga­tions made by Le

Monde.”

The IAAF said they were con­tin­u­ing to work with the French in­ves­ti­ga­tion on its on­go­ing crim­i­nal in­ves­ti­ga­tion.

“We can con­firm that Frank Fred­er­icks has been in con­tact with the IAAF Ethics Board this week and pro­vided in­for­ma­tion re­lat­ing to the sub­stance of the press coverage to­day,” the rul­ing body said in a state­ment.

“He has in­di­cated he is happy to as­sist the Ethics Board with any ques­tions it may have,” the IAAF added.

Le Monde said Menezes Soares Filho is a close as­so­ciate of Ser­gio Cabral, who was Rio gov­er­nor at the time of the Olympic bid but re­signed in April 2014 in the face of anti-cor­rup­tion protests.

Cabral faces trial on cor­rup­tion and money laun­der­ing charges as part of the sweep­ing Op­er­a­tion Car Wash in­ves­ti­ga­tion into cor­rup­tion and political kick­backs fo­cused on state oil com­pany Petro­bras.

Cabral’s lawyers have de­nied he has com­mit­ted any crimes.

An­drada said the on­go­ing in­ves­ti­ga­tion by French au­thor­i­ties was fo­cused on Lamine and did not have any con­nec­tion with Rio’s can­di­dacy.

“The Rio Games have al­ready taken place and filled Brazil­ians with pride, and only when the French have con­cluded their in­ves­ti­ga­tion will it be pos­si­ble to say who are the ben­e­fi­cia­ries of this scheme,” he said.

“Al­ready, how­ever, it’s clear that the Rio Games have noth­ing to do with this.”

Rio be­came the first South Amer­i­can city to host the Olympic games in Au­gust.

De­spite con­cerns over the city’s abil­ity to host the Games dur­ing Brazil’s worst re­ces­sion, the Olympics were held with­out any ma­jor prob­lems. How­ever, many of the venues and in­stal­la­tions have since been aban­doned.

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