Magazine article NotiSur - South American Political and Economic Affairs

Brazilian Olympic Committee Suspended Following Arrest of Top Official

Magazine article NotiSur - South American Political and Economic Affairs

Brazilian Olympic Committee Suspended Following Arrest of Top Official

Article excerpt

The president of the Brazilian Olympic Committee, the driving force behind the Rio 2016 Summer Olympic Games, has been arrested on corruption charges. Carlos Arthur Nuzman, who chaired the national committee that secured the first Olympics in South America, is accused of bribing a Senegalese member of the International Olympic Committee (IOC) with US$2 million and paying out another US$500,000 in other bribes. According to Brazilian prosecutors, he also deposited 16 1kilogram gold bars in Switzerland. They say the graft served to buy votes in the bidding process for the 2016 games (NotiSur, Sept. 11, 2015, and Aug. 5, 2016).

"While Olympic medalists chased their dreams of gold medals, leaders of the Brazilian Olympic Committee stashed their gold in Switzerland," said federal prosecutor Fabiana Schneider.

In response to the announcement, the IOC suspended Brazil's membership. Nuzman resigned from his post shortly after his arrest and the vice president of the Brazilian committee, Paulo Wanderley Teixeira, assumed the top spot, vowing to clean house on corruption. The allegations have drawn extra scrutiny from federal officials about the Brazilian committee's use of funds. With the committee's reputation tarnished, sporting officials are concerned about the nation's ability to field competitive athletes in the Tokyo Olympics in 2020.

Unfair Play

Nuzman's arrest caps off over a year of investigation into bribery and malfeasance surrounding the 2016 games. Red flags had been raised in the run-up to the games, but other than some illegal ticket resales during the Rio Olympics, no serious allegations could be proven.

However, Brazil's wide-ranging corruption investigation, Operacao Lava Jato (NotiSur, Aug. 14, 2015, May 12, 2017, July 28, 2017), had implicated a number of contractors who worked on Olympic venues, including construction companies who inflated prices to work on marquee projects like the Maracana Stadium in Rio de Janeiro. Those probes led to the arrest last year of former State of Rio de Janeiro Governor Sergio Cabral, who was convicted in June and sentenced to 14 years in prison on bribery and money laundering charges.

Eventually, the federal probe found evidence of misconduct in the handling off the Olympic bidding process in a related investigation, Operation Unfair Play. In September, authorities raided Nuzman's Rio home, seizing assets and documents (NotiSur, Sept 11, 2015).

"He was the bridge that linked the criminal scheme together," Schneider told the media at the time of the raid. …

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