Black Tidings-Diack links 'not known'

PARIS • The head of Japan's Olympic Committee told French investigators he did not know that a consultancy firm used by the 2020 Tokyo bid committee had links to a controversial Senegalese at the centre of corruption allegations, documents seen by AFP show.

Tsunekazu Takeda was charged this month by French investigating magistrates probing two payments totalling US$2.3 million (S$3.13 million) made before and after the Japanese capital was chosen to host the Olympics in September 2013.

Officially the payments, made in July and October 2013, were made for "consultancy work", but the French investigators believe they were to obtain "favourable votes from members of the International Olympic Committee (IOC)".

Among the IOC members voting on the bid was Lamine Diack, the Senegalese who was then head of the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF).

His son, Papa Massata Diack, was then a marketing consultant for the IAAF and is now under investigation, facing allegations he received bribes in return for helping Tokyo land the 2020 Games.

The payments were made to the now-defunct Singaporean consultancy firm Black Tidings. French investigating magistrates describe Black Tidings as a "shell company".

Investigators who visited Singapore found the company did not have an office, tracing it instead to an apartment where the company administrator, Ian Tan Tong Han, lived. Tan was a close business associate of Massata Diack.

Last week, the Singaporean 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 Black Tidings.

Questioned in Paris on Dec 10, Takeda denied any knowledge of the business relationship between Tan and Massata Diack.

"At the time that the contracts were signed, neither the bid committee nor I knew of the existence of these links," Takeda told investigators. "I did not know Papa Massata Diack, I had never had a conversation with him."

Takeda told his French questioners he played no role in choosing the consultancy firm, saying Black Tidings were recommended by the Japanese advertising giant, Dentsu.

In a statement, Tokyo 2020 said it had "no means of knowing the bid committee's activities", which occurred before the organising committee was set up.

"We believe that the Games were awarded to Tokyo because the city presented the best bid," the statement added.

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on January 22, 2019, with the headline 'Black Tidings-Diack links 'not known''. Print Edition | Subscribe