Singapore-based firm 'paid Papa $500k'

TOKYO • A consulting firm hired by Tokyo's Olympic bid committee paid some US$367,000 (S$503,000) to the son of an International Olympic Committee (IOC) member before and after the Japanese capital was picked to host the Games, reports said yesterday.

The claims come as the French authorities probe an alleged vote-buying scandal, centring on US$2 million paid by the Tokyo bid panel to Black Tidings, a Singapore-based firm linked to Senegalese national Papa Massata Diack. He is the son of Lamine Diack, the former head of the International Association of Athletics Federations, (IAAF) - now renamed World Athletics.

Diack senior was also a member of the IOC and said to have influence over African votes at the time of the Tokyo bid in September 2013 to host the 2020 Games, Japan's Kyodo News said. According to Kyodo, the now-defunct Black Tidings had transferred more than US$150,000 to the personal account of Papa Massata and wired US$217,000 to a company run by him by January 2014.

The findings, based on financial documents and reporting by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists, including Kyodo, may shed light on allegations that the Tokyo bid committee engaged in vote-buying, the news agency said.

In an interview with Kyodo, Papa Massata denied the allegations, saying the money he received was related to a "sponsorship deal made in China. There is nothing to do with the Tokyo Olympics".

Tsunekazu Takeda, former head of the Tokyo bid committee, has also denied any wrongdoing. Last year, he stepped down as head of Japan's Olympic Committee following the French investigation.

Last week, Lamine Diack, 87, was found guilty by a French court of corruption in covering up Russian doping cases and sentenced to four years in prison, two of which were suspended.

In January last year, Black Tidings' owner Ian Tan - said to be a "close business associate" of the younger Diack - was sentenced to a week's jail for giving false information to a Corrupt Practices Investigation Bureau officer who was probing the flow of funds in and out of the company.

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on September 22, 2020, with the headline 'S'pore-based firm 'paid Papa $500k''. Print Edition | Subscribe