The Tokyo Olympics were postponed until 2021 due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Those games, however, are now under fire from French prosecutors and police investigators, according to a new NBC News investigation.
A team of more than a dozen prosecutors and investigators are looking into allegations of corruption associated with the bid to get the games to Tokyo, a top French prosecutor told NBC News. The allegations reportedly surfaced after a lengthy investigation into the massive Russian state-sponsored doping scandal.
French prosecutors looking into corruption allegations
The investigation into the Tokyo games is focused on payments made to a father and son from Senegal. Lamine Diack ran the IAAF, or World Athletics — the largest Olympic sports federation — for more than 15 years while his son, Papa Massata Diack, worked as a marketing consultant there.
French prosecutors, per the report, alleged that they solicited about $4 million from athletes suspected of doping in order to hide their positive tests. The two denied any wrongdoing, but were convicted by a French court last week.
Bank account records found 112 transactions where more than $55 million had come in and out of accounts linked to the Diacks — including some linked to the Russian doping scandal and more than $2 million from a bank account linked to the Tokyo Organizing Committee.
That transaction came around the time they were trying to land the games — which was granted to them in 2013. The funds, per the report, went to an account in Singapore controlled by a friend of the Diacks both before and after the announcement in 2013.
Hundred of thousands of dollars then went from that Singapore account to accounts controlled by the Diacks in Senegal, luxury car dealerships in Dubai, a jewelry dealer in the United Arab Emirates and a Senegal travel company, per NBC News.
Standard Chartered Bank in New York oversaw the transactions, and filed suspicious activity reports two years later about the Diacks’ transactions. A Japanese commission investigated those payments in 2016, per the report, and found that they were not bribes and were not illegal — though that investigation didn’t interview the Diacks.
Graham Barrow, a London-based anti-money laundering expert, told NBC News that the transactions and suspicious activity reports regarding those payments “made my jaw drop.”
“That’s really worrying,” he said, via NBC News. “You would have thought that payments of that size coming out of the Tokyo 2020 Committee would be subject to particularly significant scrutiny.”
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