Brazil Olympics chief arrested amid vote-buying scandal

RIO DE JANEIRO • Brazilian police yesterday arrested the chairman of the Brazilian Olympic Committee as part of a probe into alleged buying of votes to secure Rio de Janeiro's hosting of the Olympics last year.

Police said in a statement that Carlos Nuzman, 75, was arrested on suspicion of corruption, money laundering and criminal association.

Twenty police officers were deployed early yesterday in Rio de Janeiro on orders from a federal judge, arresting Nuzman and seizing documents.

Brazilian newspaper O'Globo also quoted investigators claiming that Nuzman's net worth increased by 457 per cent between 2006 and last year, with the most significant rises recorded over the last three years.

Last month, his lawyer Sergio Mazzillo said Nuzman is innocent.

The officers also arrested the Rio 2016 committee's chief operating officer, Leonardo Gryner.

Following an investigation dubbed "Unfair Play" that spanned several countries, Brazilian officials last month said Nuzman was the "lynchpin" in a plot to bribe the International Olympic Committee (IOC) into awarding Rio de Janeiro last year's Summer Games.

At the time, he was detained and questioned and authorities confiscated his passport.

Authorities allege that former Rio governor Sergio Cabral, who is serving a 14-year prison term for bribery and money laundering, was the mastermind of the plot, which saw US$2 million (S$2.72 million) in bribes paid to the son of Senegalese IOC member Lamine Diack before the 2009 vote.

Rio beat Chicago, Madrid and Tokyo to win the 2016 Games.

It emerged earlier this week that Nuzman and Gryner had met Brazilian businessman Arthur Cesar de Menezes Soares Filho shortly before the IOC session in Copenhagen in October 2009, when Rio de Janeiro was awarded the Games.

De Menezes allegedly provided US$1.5 million through a company set up by Diack's son, Papa Massata, to help solicit the votes of African IOC members in return for supporting Rio 2016.

"The IOC's chief ethics and compliance officer has asked the Brazilian authorities for full information in order to proceed with the IOC's investigation, and has offered the IOC's full cooperation," the IOC said in a statement.

The Rio Games were generally credited with being a sporting and organisational success, but allegations of massive corruption during the preparations and in the naming of the host city have tarnished their legacy.


A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on October 06, 2017, with the headline 'Brazil Olympics chief arrested amid vote-buying scandal'. Print Edition | Subscribe