Brazilian police on Thursday arrested the chairman of the country’s Olympic Committee as part of a probe into alleged buying of votes to secure Rio’s hosting of the 2016 Games.
Police said in a statement that Carlos Nuzman, 75, was arrested on suspicion of corruption, money laundering and criminal association.
Twenty police officers deployed early Thursday in Rio de Janeiro on orders from a federal judge, arresting Nuzman and seizing documents.
The officers also arrested the Rio 2016 committee’s chief operating officer Leonardo Gryner, according to an AFP photographer.
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 into awarding Rio de Janeiro last year’s Games.
At the time, Nuzman 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 $2 million in bribes paid to the son of Senegalese IOC member Lamine Diack before the 2009 vote in which Rio beat Chicago, Madrid and Tokyo to win the 2016 Games.
Businessman Arturo Soares, known as “King Arthur,” a top contractor for Cabral’s administration, is alleged to have delivered the payment three days before the IOC vote in Copenhagen in October 2009.
The Rio games were generally credited with being a sporting and organizational success, but revelations of massive corruption during the preparations and now even in the naming of the host city have tarnished the legacy.
The latest scandal cast a pall over a meeting in Lima last month of the International Olympic Committee following the designation of Paris for the 2024 Games and Los Angeles as the 2028 host city.
IOC President Thomas Bach was asked at the time about Nuzman’s role in the organization as an honorary member. Bach pledged the IOC’s cooperation, but noted that there are limits to any sports organization’s powers of investigation.
Ban Ki-moon, chief of the IOC’s ethics commission, on Thursday also pledged cooperation and asked Brazilian authorities for all available information on the case.
The offices of Brazil’s Olympic Committee and several companies were searched in September when Nuzman was brought in for questioning.