(ATR) Rio 2016 President Carlos Nuzman spent hours speaking to investigators Tuesday after police raids at 11 locations in the search for evidence of IOC vote-buying in the race for the 2016 Olympics.
Nuzman’s home in the chic Leblon neighborhood was swarmed by federal police at dawn. That was followed by searches at the Brazil Olympic Committee and other locations in Rio de Janeiro. The police inquiry is named "Operation Unfair Play".
At mid morning, Nuzman’s arrival at the federal police headquarters was carried live on TV.
Nuzman lawyer Sergio Mazzillo termed the activity a "media spectacle." He tells Brazilian media that there is "strong evidence," his client had committed no crimes.
"It's hard to say anything because we did not have access to the process," Mazzillo said. "I've already said that he did not commit any irregularities. He has done nothing; he is calm and composed," says the attorney.
Reports from Rio late Tuesday say that Nuzman left the police headquarters mid afternoon, about five hours after arriving. Reports say Nuzman reserved his right not to answer questions from the police. The Brazilian Olympic leader was allowed to return home.
Nuzman is one of three Brazilians under investigation in connection with the dealings of former IAAF President and IOC member Lamine Diack. French prosecutors believe that Diack and son Papa Masata may have engaged in a scheme to funnel money from a wealthy Brazilian to IOC members in exchange for votes supporting Rio for the 2016 Olympics.
Prosecutors in Rio say they have say they have evidencethat a wealthy businessman,Arthur César de Menezes Soares Filho, provided cash to an offshore account that funneled money to the younger Diack. Prosecutors say they are looking for evidence that Nuzman was connected to the way the money was eventually spent. Soares,who now lives in Miami, is considered a fugitive and supposedly is on an Interpol list.
Rio prevailed in the four city race for 2016 that lasted three rounds October 2, 2009. Chicago, Tokyo and Madrid were the other contenders.
Investigators from France participated in today’s raids in Rio de Janeiro. The investigation into vote-buying in Brazil grew out of a larger inquiry in France into Lamine Diack’s role in the epic Russian doping scandal. Evidence has mounted that as IAAF President, Diack received bribes from Russia brokered by his son, to keep positive doping tests of Russian track and field athletes from being made public.
The French prosecutor says that investigations have revealed a "large scale system of corruption around Papa Massata Diack." The French are also exploring the possibility that Diack may have sold his IOC vote in 2015 to support Tokyo for the 2020 Olympics.
Reports from Rio say that $160,000 in cash in four different currencies was seized from Nuzman’s home. Assets of Nuzman and two other individuals involved in the inquiry, said to be worth $300,000 have been ordered frozen.
The police raids took place a week before the IOC Session in Lima, which Nuzman, now an honorary IOC member, will not attend. His passport has now been seized, preventing Nuzman from travelling to any international meetings. Nuzman, 75, served as an IOC member from 2001 to 2012 when he turned 70 and was subject to IOC retirement rules.
An IOC spokesman, says the IOC is awaiting any evidenceobtained from today’s searches.
"This investigation by the Brazilian authorities is part of the broader 'Lava Jato' inquiry which has been underway in the country for some time. This is also linked to the ongoing investigation by the French prosecutor," says the spokesperson.
"The IOC's Chief Ethics and Compliance Officer has asked for the IOC to be fully informed in a timely manner of all issues that may refer to Olympic matters. It remains in the highest interest of the IOC to protect the integrity of the candidature process and to address and sanction any infringements."
The statement notes that Papa Diack has never been an IOC member or held any formal connection to the organization. His father, as president of the IAAF, held an IOC membership until leaving the IAAF in 2015. While conferred IOC honorary membership, Lamine Diack resigned from that post in 2016 rather than face an IOC Ethics Commission inquiry that could have led to his expulsion.
Nuzman and colleagues made a series of visits to African IOC members and government officials in the months leading up to the IOC vote at the 2009 Session in Copenhagen. Of particular interest is a $239,000 payment from a company owned by Papa Diack to IOC member in Namibia Frank Fredericks. The payment appeared in an offshore account of Frederick’s just hours before the IOC vote. Fredericks has suspended himself from the IOC while French prosecutors investigate. The silver-medalist sprinter has denied any wrongdoing and says the money was used for youth sport programs in Namibia.
The Brazilian Olympic Committee confirmed to ATR today that it did not plan to release a statement regarding the police investigations. Nuzman has been president since 1995.
Written by Aaron Bauer
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