Former president of COB (Brazilian Olympic Committee) Carlos Arthur Nuzman was sentenced to almost 31 years in prison on the accusation of having participated in the payment of bribes to members of the IOC (International Olympic Committee) in exchange for votes for Rio de Janeiro host the 2016 Olympics.
Judge Marcelo Bretas, of the 7th Federal Criminal Court, also convicted former governor Sérgio Cabral and former Rio-16 director Leonardo Gryner, accused of involvement in the scheme.
According to the Federal Public Ministry, the three participated in the payment of US$ 2 million to Senegalese Lamine Diack, former president of the International Athletics Federation, in exchange for votes for Rio’s candidacy in the election at the IOC held in October 2009.
The money, according to the investigation by the Attorney’s Office, was made possible by businessman Arthur Soares and debited from the bribe he had agreed to pay to the former governor.
The lawsuit against the three was one of those that had been stalled for over a year in Bretas’ office, awaiting sentencing. Nuzman’s lawyer even appealed to the TRF-2 (Federal Regional Court of the 2nd Region) to determine the delivery of the sentence.
“An 80-year-old elderly man is being taken care of, who has priority and who respectfully invokes the fundamental guarantee of having his process defined within a reasonable time”, states a petition by attorney João Francisco Neto, who represents Nuzman.
Sought, the defense of the former sports director and former governor did not comment on the decision.
Cabral was sentenced to 10 years and 8 months in prison, adding up to more than 414 years of sentence. Gryner was sentenced to 13 years and 10 months in prison.
They were denounced in 2017 on charges of criminal organization, active corruption, money laundering and currency evasion. Soares, Diack and the Senegalese’s son, Papa Massata Diack, have not yet been tried because their lawsuits were dismembered, as they live abroad.
Nuzman has always denied the charge. He stated that he was not aware of any payment and that the choice of Rio de Janeiro was due to the efforts of the members of the candidacy committee.
The leader was imprisoned preventively for 15 days, but was released for habeas corpus by the STJ (Superior Court of Justice). The investigation led to the resignation of the top hat of the COB presidency after 22 years in charge of the entity.
Cabral also initially denied the charge. He even classified the prosecution’s accusation under interrogation as a “racial prejudice”.
However, the former governor changed his defense strategy, decided to confess and, in new testimony, confirmed the payment of bribes. He said the money passed would buy up to nine votes, citing former athletes Alexander Popov of Russia and Sergei Bubka of Ukraine as two of them.
He also said that former president Lula, at the time in office, and the mayor of Rio de Janeiro, Eduardo Paes (PSD), knew about the payment. They deny it.
According to Cabral, the main concern of the Brazilian delegation was to guarantee a minimum number of supporters in the first round of voting at the IOC.
Four cities were candidates in the 2009 election (in addition to Rio, Madrid, Tokyo and Chicago). The victor would be defined by elimination. In each round, the least chosen city was removed from the dispute, starting a new vote.
“He [Nuzman] arrived with Leo Gryner. ‘Look Governor, we have every chance of winning. We had a beautiful campaign, the three levels of government involved. The president of the international athletics federation, Lamine Diack, is open to undue advantage. We made contact with him. And there is a guarantee of five to six votes. And they want $1.5 million,'” reported Cabral.
The emedebist reported that Nuzman and Gryner later approached him asking for an additional $500,000 to secure up to nine votes.
In the first round of voting, the Brazilian city had 26 votes, while the American city was eliminated with 18. If the Rio candidate had lost up to nine votes supposedly bought for the competitor, the city would not have passed.
“It was essential to have these votes guaranteed. Then there was politics. The politics with a small ‘p’ in the first phase and the one with a capital ‘p’ in the second and third phases”, said Cabral, referring to the campaign for the second vote of the IOC voters.
After the first round, Rio maintained a large advantage over the others, having attracted the votes of voters from the eliminated cities. In the last poll, it surpassed Madrid by 66 to 32.
The main evidence in the process was proof of a transfer of $2 million from a company owned by Soares to a firm owned by Papa Diack.
The link with the vote was determined through e-mails from Papa Diack to members of Rio-16, in which he charged the promised amount. The delay, the Senegalese wrote, created “embarrassment from people who trusted our commitment in Copenhagen.”
In addition to the amount paid by Soares, investigations identified the payment of another US$ 500,000 to Diack through an account of Willy Kraus, owner of a foreign exchange brokerage in Rio de Janeiro, who died in 2015.
Kraus’ transfers coincide with what Massata Diack reported in an email sent to Nuzman’s then secretary, Maria Celeste. In the message, sent on January 6, 2010, he confirms the receipt of two transfers (US$50,000 and US$60,000) and points out a debt of US$340,000.
Two deposits made by Kraus occurred before sending the email with the same amounts. Two other transfers (US$80,000 and US$60,000) occurred after the email was sent.
The investigation identified a series of emails from Massata Diack charging even after Soares paid in September 2009. On November 26, 2009, Gryner had sent an email to the Senegalese claiming he had “a different sponsor for that last portion”.
“This sponsor is having problems with this transfer and we are trying to help him”, wrote the former director of Rio-16. The suspicion is that Kraus is the new “sponsor” or an intermediary for him.