For buying votes for Rio de Janeiro to host the 2016 Olympics, Carlos Arthur Nuzman, the Brazilian Olympic Committee’s president for more than two decades, was sentenced to 30 years and 11 months in prison.
Judge Marcelo Bretas’ decision was made public on Thursday.
Nuzman was convicted of corruption, criminal organisation, money laundering, and tax evasion while also serving as the chairman of the Rio organising committee.
The 79-year-old businessman, who served on the IOC for 12 years, including during the 2009 vote when his colleagues were reportedly bought, will not be sentenced until all of his appeals are heard.
His lawyer and he did not respond to the ruling.
Bretas also condemned former Rio governor Sergio Cabral, billionaire Arthur Soares, and Rio committee director general of operations Leonardo Gryner to prison. According to investigators, the three men worked together with Nuzman to bribe Lamine Diack, the former president of the International Association of Athletics Federations, and his son Papa Massata Diack for votes.
Cabral, who has been in prison since 2016 and is facing additional charges, told Bretas two years ago that he paid roughly $2 million in exchange for up to six votes in the International Olympic Committee meeting that gave Rio the Olympic and Paralympic Games. He said the funds came from a debt that Soares owed him.
Cabral, who was governor of Rio de Janeiro from 2003 to 2010, also stated that additional $500,000 was paid to Diack’s son later in order to get three more IOC votes. At the time, Lamine Diack was a senior IOC member.
Given his position in the Brazilian Olympic Committee and before international authorities, Bretas’ verdict designates Nuzman as “one of the principal responsibles for the promotion and organisation of the illegal scheme.” The sports executive “led and coordinated action of the other agents, plainly as a leader,” according to the judge, in order to illegally gain support at the IOC.
The judge said he’ll send the investigation’s findings to authorities in Senegal and France, where Papa Massata Diack and Lamine Diack live. Lamine Diack was sentenced to two years in prison by a French court in 2020 for corruption while leading track & field. Diack, who is now 88 years old, returned to Senegal in May.
In a referendum held in Copenhagen, Rio de Janeiro defeated Chicago, Tokyo, and Madrid to host the 2016 Olympic Games.
As the president of the United States, Barack Obama visited to Denmark to advocate for his hometown of Chicago. He hinted at possible sports corruption several years later, while still in office, when he described the 2016 Olympic vote as “a little bit cooked.”
The inquiry in Brazil began in 2017 after members of the International Olympic Committee (IOC) were bribed three days before the vote, according to the French newspaper Le Monde.
Nuzman’s honorary membership in the IOC, which he had had since 2013, was suspended in 2017 and has yet to be reinstated.
“The IOC ethics commission will now analyse the judgement against Mr. Nuzman and will make its recommendations as soon as it receives all of the necessary evidence from the Brazilian authorities,” the IOC said in a statement on Friday.
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