• Kyodo

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A consulting firm for the Tokyo Olympic bid committee transferred some ¥37 million ($370,000) to the son of one-time influential IOC member Lamine Diack and his company before and after the Japanese capital was picked in September 2013 as the host city, documents showed Sunday.

The findings, based on a review of financial documents and further reporting, may help resolve the question of what happened to the money from the consulting firm and shed further light on the allegation that the Tokyo bid committee engaged in vote-buying.

Black Tidings Co., the now-defunct consulting firm based in Singapore, received a total of ¥230 million ($2 million) from the bid committee paid into a bank account in the city-state in July and October 2013. The then-chief of the Japanese committee confirmed the payment but denied any wrongdoing.

According to the documents, by January 2014 the Singapore firm had wired more than $150,000 in total to the personal account of Papa Massata Diack, 55, whose father, Lamine Diack, was a member of the International Olympic Committee said to have influence over African votes at the time of the Tokyo bid. The 87-year-old Senegalese businessman held the top post at the global athletics’ governing body from 1999 to 2015.

The money included $35,000 paid into Papa Massata’s account with a Russian bank in August and November 2013. The firm also made four money transfers totaling $217,000 to his company, PMD Consulting Sarl, from November to December 2013.

The transfers were discovered in a joint review of leaked reports of suspicious financial activity kept by the U.S. Treasury Department and French authorities. The review was conducted by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists as well as news outlets including BuzzFeed News, The Asahi Shimbun, Kyodo News and Radio France.

The documents included what the consortium identified as FinCEN Files submitted by financial institutions to the department’s Financial Crimes Enforcement Network, or FinCEN. The section is tasked with combating money laundering and safeguarding the financial system from illicit use.

Papa Massata said in an interview with Kyodo that the money he received was related to a “sponsorship deal made in China.”

“There is nothing to do with the Tokyo Olympics,” he said.

Former Japanese Olympic Committee chief Tsunekazu Takeda, who also led the bid committee, denied any knowledge of the money transfers from Black Tidings at the time of the bid.

“At the time, I did not know anything that happened after (making the payment to the consulting firm),” he said.

Since the Black Tidings bank account had not been used until the company received payments from the Tokyo bid committee, French authorities investigating sports business-related corruption scandals involving the Diacks regard Papa Massata as the “main beneficiary.”

Papa Massata was a marketing consultant for the International Association of Athletics Federation under his father. Black Tidings, headed by a friend of Papa Massata, went out of business in 2014.

Suspicions of bribery related to Tokyo’s successful bid surfaced in 2016, following allegations that money had been transferred from the bid committee to Papa Massata via the Singaporean firm. However, the use to which the ¥230 million — described by the Japanese side as a “consulting fee” — was put has remained a mystery.

Takeda, a former Olympic equestrian, stepped down as head of the JOC in June 2019, after French authorities confirmed earlier in the year that they had started an official investigation into alleged corruption over Tokyo’s successful bid.

Tokyo lost out on hosting the 2016 Summer Games to Rio de Janeiro. The Japanese capital was awarded the 2020 Olympic Games in Buenos Aires, defeating Istanbul and Madrid.

The Tokyo Olympics and Paralympics have been postponed for one year due to the novel coronavirus.

Lamine Diack was sentenced to two years in prison and fined €500,000 at a Paris court last week on bribe-taking and other charges for his involvement in a cover-up of Russia’s organized doping.

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