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"The Olympics were an enormous trampoline for corruption": Rio games boss in police probe

Sport

Brazilian investigators say politicians and the head of the national Olympic committee arranged a $2 million bribe to bring the 2016 games to Rio de Janeiro, despite the city having the worst conditions to host the event.

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Police in Rio raided the home of Brazil’s Olympics chief, Carlos Arthur Nuzman, after prosecutors accused him of conspiring with former state governor Sergio Cabral, already convicted in a separate corruption case, to buy the games.

Nuzman’s lawyer, Sergio Mazzillo, said his client was innocent. Calls to Cabral’s attorney were not returned.

The legacy of South America’s first Olympics, which ended just over a year ago, has been muddied by allegations of graft.

The Olympic rings in the Athletes’ Village in Rio. Photo: Martin Rickett / PA Wire

Nearly every infrastructure project connected to the games is under investigation. Prosecutors allege that major construction firms bribed politicians and others to win contracts worth billions of dollars for the event.

The latest development drove home the stunning fall from grace of officials who sold the idea that Rio’s Olympics would transform a developing-world city through giant strides in security, infrastructure and environmental improvements.

Prosecutor Fabiana Schneider said at a news conference that what was striking about Rio winning the games was it did so despite being “the worst candidate.”

“The Olympics were used as an enormous trampoline for corruption,” Schneider said, citing billions of dollars spent on construction projects.

Most of the building was done by large construction firms now ensnared in Brazil’s sweeping “Car Wash” anti-corruption investigation. The firms have admitted paying massive bribes to politicians and former executives at state-run companies in return for contracts.

Prosecutors suspect the same arrangement also took place in works for the 2014 World Cup, which Brazil hosted.

As part of Operation Unfair Play, a federal judge ordered the seizure of Nuzman’s passport and his questioning about an alleged $2 million bribe to secure the vote of Lamine Diack, former president of the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF).

Police also served two arrest warrants and conducted search operations as part of the investigation started nine months ago in cooperation with French authorities.

In Paris, prosecutors said the probe had revealed a corruption scheme centred on Papa Massata Diack, the son of Lamine Diack, once an influential member of the IOC now detained in France.

The younger Diack said he was ready to provide proof of his innocence to French investigators if they came to the West African country.

-Reuters 

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