23rd September 2020

Further questions raised about Tokyo 2020 payments

Further questions have been raised as to whether payments made by a Singapore company to Papa Massata Diack, son of former World Athletics President Lamine Diack, were intended to secure votes for Tokyo’s hosting of the 2020 Olympics. In April 2016, an investigation confirmed that the Tokyo Bidding Committee had paid $2.05 million to Black Tidings, but was unable to find any evidence of wrongdoing. 

In January last year, French police began an investigation into the same payment. The International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ) has now discovered evidence that Black Tidings transferred $370,000 to Diack Jr.

ICIJ journalists discovered that the Tokyo 2020 Bidding Committee sent a total of $10.5 million to overseas destinations at around the time that Tokyo was chosen to host the 2020 Olympics. It is understood that not all these ‘overseas consulting fees’ were disclosed within an April 2014 Report produced by the Tokyo Bidding Committee; or as part of the April 2016 investigation.

It is understood that payments made by Black Tidings to Diack Jr. were discovered via a set of leaked Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN) Reports. They allegedly detail $150,000 paid by Black Tidings to Diack Jr.’s Russian bank account from August to November 2013, and in January 2014; plus four transfers to his PMD Consulting company from November to December 2013, totalling $217,000.

Tokyo was chosen as host of the 2020 Olympics in September 2013. At the time, Lamine Diack was a member of the International Olympic Committee (IOC) and it is argued that he held influence over the African vote. He has recently been sentenced to four years in prison for corruption.

Details of deals agreed in China by Papa Massata Diack…

Diack Jr., appointed by his father as a marketing consultant to World Athletics, argues that the payments are related to a sponsorship deal in China. Documents provided by Diack Jr. to The Sports Integrity Initiative (below) outline that he helped secure deals with numerous Chinese companies.

Papa Massata Diack with current World Athletics President Sebastian Coe…

In a 2017 interview with The Sports Integrity Initiative, Papa Massata Diack agued that Black Tidings was owned by Ianton Tan, whom he admitted paying for work carried out in China. The May 2015 Marketing Report mentions ‘Special thanks to Mr. Anderson Yeo and Mr. Ianton Tan for client servicing in People’s Republic of China’.

In August last year, French prosecutors widened their probe into sponsorship and TV deals concluded during the Diacks tenure at World Athletics. Given the complexity of such arrangements, it appears improbable that Diack Jr. would accept a direct bribe in exchange for voting support for Tokyo’s bid to host the 2020 Olympics. 

Yet the timing of the payments uncovered by ICIJ journalists is significant. Diack Jr.’s marketing presentations don’t list any sponsorship deals with Chinese companies as being concluded towards the tail end of 2013, but staggered commission payments are not an uncommon part of such deals. Diack Jr. could therefore be asked to prove that the payments are unrelated to Tokyo’s appointment as host of the 2020 Olympics in September 2013.

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