6 October 2017

Analysis: Carlos Nuzman’s arrest shows Rio 2016 votes were bought

A 78-page charge sheet detailing the reasons behind the arrest of Carlos Nuzman, President of the Brazilian Olympic Committee (COB) and former Director Leonardo Gryner, shows that votes to appoint Rio as the host of the 2016 Olympics were bought. It also shows the extraordinary scale of corruption orchestrated by former Governor of Rio, Sérgio Cabral, in concert with businessman Arthur César de Menezes Soares Filho (known as ‘King Arthur’) concerning construction and service contracts connected to the Rio Games.

Organisational chart produced in the MPF report

Specifically, the document details how the the vote of former International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) President Lamine Diack was bought. It also reproduces dated email evidence showing the involvement of Diack’s son, Papa Massata Diack, in brokering payments allegedly designed to secure Africa’s block vote for Rio as 2016 host.

The document (PDF below) sets out that:

• Former Governor of Rio, Sergio Cabral, asked ‘King Arthur’ Soares to make a payment to Papa / Lamine Diack to ensure favourable votes from African IOC members to secure Rio as 2016 host;
• The COB’s Gryner & Nuzman, through agreement with Cabral, were responsible for organising and managing corrupt payments made by Soares;
• Cabral introduced Soares to Gryner in Paris, days before the Copenhagen vote to appoint the host of the 2016 Olympics;
• Soares offered to pay the Diacks in order to ensure that Cabral would be re-elected, so as to secure kickbacks from construction contracts related to the Games.

Brazil’s Federal Public Ministry (MPF) announced the arrest of Nuzman and Gryner yesterday. An order had previously been placed on Nuzman confiscating his passports in order to prevent him from leaving the country. Prosecutors told the MPF that the temporary imprisonment of Nuzman and Gryner was necessary both to block their assets, and to prevent them from continuing to act criminally, including by interfering in the production of evidence.

Cabral was jailed for 14 years in June this year, after accusations that he ran a criminal organisation and accepted bribes connected to the awarding of construction contracts for Rio 2016. Papa Diack has consistently denied being involved in any form of corruption.

In an appearance before the Federal Public Prosecutor’s Office on 6 September, Gryner said that a meeting took place with the Diacks in Paris during 2009. Gryner said that Arthur Soares was named by Sergio Cabral as a potential sponsor for an athletics event to be funded by Brazil at the request of the IAAF. However, he argued that the event never occurred and although he was aware of the US$2 million payment by Matlock Capital, owned by Soares, to Pamodzi Consulting (owned by Papa Diack), he did not know the reason for it.

Email details from the MPF report…

The MPF says that this is proof that the payment happened. Despite Gryner’s denial, the 78 page document outlines an extraordinary chain of emails between Papa Diack, Nuzman and Gryner concerning the chasing of a payment. The total amount is not mentioned, but in a 17 December 2009 email, Papa Diack mentions that the lack of receipt of the payment means ‘we are quite embarrassed with the President because our friends don’t trust us anymore’. The MPF says that this is a reference to the block vote by African countries to appoint Rio as host of the 2016 Games.

Keys to a Swiss safe found to contain 16 1kg gold bars were seized at Nuzman’s residence…

‘The expressions used in the messages, without explicitly saying what it refers to, leave no doubts as to its real context’, reads the MPF document. ‘If it was something lawful, the use of subliminal messages – using indirect expressions such as “our friends”, “our commitment in Copenhagen” – would be unnecessary’.

The MPF document also alleges that Nuzman attempted to prevent the discovery of illicit equity by hiding 16 gold bars of 1kg each. One of the objects seized was the key to a safe in Switzerland. In that safe had been deposited 16 gold bars. The MPF document says that the purpose of this was designed to hide equity, as gold bars are difficult to trace.

It also appeared that Nuzman attempted to cover his tracks. The MPF points out that in the last 10 years of his 22-year tenure as President of the COB, Nuzman expanded its assets by 457% with no clear indication of where this income had come from. It said that Nuzman only attempted to declare the 16 gold bars for income tax purposes in retrospect on 20 September this year – after the launch of Operation Fair Play.


‘The IOC’s Ethics and Compliance Officer has asked the Brazilian authorities for full information in order to proceed with the IOC’s investigation, and has offered the IOC’s full cooperation’, read an initial statement from the International Olympic Committee (IOC). ‘The IOC Ethics Commission’s activities started immediately after the allegations were made and the investigation is ongoing. Given the new facts, the IOC Ethics Commission may consider provisional measures while respecting Mr. Nuzman’s right to be heard. The IOC will not comment further on this matter until a recommendation is issued by the IOC Ethics Commission. It also reiterates that the presumption of innocence prevails.’

Today, the IOC suspended Nuzman as an Honorary IOC Member, and withdrew him from the Tokyo 2020 Coordination Commission. It also suspended the COB, however stressed that Brazilian athletes would continue to be able to compete at IOC-sanctioned events, such as the PyeongChang 2018 Winter Olympics. It asked ‘all judicial authorities to provide the IOC Ethics Commission with all the available information at their earliest convenience’. It is understood that further investigations may be considered, depending on the information that judicial authorities are able to provide to the IOC. The statement pointed out that the IOC ‘closed all its obligations with the Organising Committee in December 2016, as confirmed by the Organising Committee’.

To the casual observer, one of the mysteries of the Rio 2016 Olympics was why the country would let its new venues fall into such a state of disrepair. Operation Lava Jato (car wash) and Operation Unfair Play have alleged that the whole organisational system that underpinned the construction of such magnificent venues was corrupt. It is no wonder that such venues have fallen into disrepair. Most of the people behind their construction are either under arrest or on the run.

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