Jailed former governor says he bought votes for Rio Olympics
RIO DE JANEIRO (AP) — A jailed former governor of Rio de Janeiro state told a judge on Thursday that he paid about $2 million for the votes of International Olympic Committee members to award the Brazilian city the 2016 Summer Games.
Sergio Cabral said he paid $1.5 million in bribes through intermediaries to the former president of the International Association of Athletics Federations, Lamine Diack, originally in exchange for up to six votes in the meeting that awarded Rio the Olympic and Paralympic Games. The former governor added that another $500,000 was paid later to Diack’s son with the aim of securing three more votes of IOC members for Rio.
Cabral said former Brazilian Olympic Committee chairman Carlos Arthur Nuzman handled the negotiations. The former governor said the money came from a debt owed to him by businessman Arthur Soares.
“Nuzman came to me and said ’Sergio, I want to tell you that the IAAF president, Lamine Diack, is a person that is open to undue advantages. He can secure five or six votes. In exchange, he wants $1.5 million,” the former governor said about a meeting he alleges he had with Nuzman in August 2009.
The jailed politician said he used Leonardo Gryner, who would later become the Rio 2016 committee director-general of operations, to get in touch with Papa Diack, son of Lamine Diack, to make the payments.
Gryner was arrested for corruption, money laundering and criminal organization in 2017, but has since been released.
Cabral said Nuzman approached him again in mid-September 2009 to talk about more votes that could be bought, less than a month before the IOC decision.
“Nuzman told me Papa Diack said he could get more votes. He said we could reach nine votes in total, but he needed another $500,000. I told him it would be done,” Cabral said.
Rio was chosen over Chicago, Tokyo and Madrid to host the 2016 Games.
Nuzman’s attorney João Francisco Neto told reporters the accusation is “a version faded to disappear” because the former governor has no evidence.
“Cabral is sentenced to 200 years in prison. He needs to say things, but he has no evidence,” Neto said. “Even if that had happened, corporate corruption is not a crime in Brazil.”
Lamine Diack, meanwhile, is facing trial in France for corruption and money laundering and has been accused of taking money to cover up positive doping tests by Russian athletes.
Cabral governed Rio state between 2003 and 2010. He was arrested in November 2016 for corruption, money laundering and many other crimes.
The former governor said he bought the votes for Rio to get to “the second stage of the vote” and that “no votes were bought after that.”
Chicago’s bid was the first to be eliminated, despite the presence of then-U.S. President Barack Obama at the IOC meeting in Copenhagen.
Tokyo was next. Rio beat Madrid in the final round, 66 votes to 32.
Cabral said he told then-Rio Mayor Eduardo Paes about the bribes.