France probing Tokyo 2020 payments; Japan denies wrongdoing

French authorities are probing a payment of 2.8 million Singapore dollars (2 million US dollars) linked to Tokyo's successful bid for the 2020 Olympics to an account linked to the son of former world athletics supremo and Olympian Lamine Diack.

The French financial prosecutor's office said in a statement Thursday the payment was made in two instalments from a bank in Tokyo to the Black Tidings company in Singapore, and marked "Tokyo 2020 Olympic Game bid."

The Black Tidings account is linked to Papa Massata Diack who was an adviser to the athletics body IAAF and is sought by Interpol in connection with a French corruption investigation targeting the Diacks around the covering up of positive doping cases.

Thursday's statement said the authorities started the separate probe into the 2020 Olympic bid probe on December 24, 2015, based on investigative news reports, the findings of a commission from the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA), and other evidence.

Lamine Diack was a member of the International Olympic Committee (IOC) between 1999 and 2014. Tokyo was elected 2020 host city by the IOC in September 2013 over Madrid and Istanbul.

The payments to Black Tidings were made before and after the vote, in July and October 2013, according to the French authorities.

Prosecutors are now looking into "the nature of the transactions" and "to verify whether acts of corruption and money laundering were committed in the process of designating the host city of the 2020 Olympic Games."

The WADA report published in mid-January said that Lamine Diack created an inner circle at the IAAF which included his sons, Papa Massada and Khalil, and his legal counsel Habib Cisse - and was responsible "for organizing and enabling the conspiracy and corruption that took place in the IAAF."

It named Ian Tan Tong as holder of the Singapore account, an associate and friend of Papa Massata Diack and with "ongoing business interests connected to the Diack family."

The report, in a footnote, also suggested that Lamine Diack tried to sell his vote for the 2020 Olympics host city in exchange for sponsorship money for the ruling athletics body, based on transcripts by Turkish officials of meetings with Diack's son Khalil in connection with an apparent extortion attempt of Turkish runner Asli Alptekin.

"It is stated that Turkey lost LD’s (Lamine Diack) support because they did not pay sponsorship moneys of 4 to 5 million dollars either to the Diamond League or IAAF. According the transcript the Japanese did pay such a sum. The 2020 Games were awarded to Tokyo," the footnote said.

It added the issue was not further investigated "for it was not within our remit" but should be further looked into.

Papa Massata Diack has been banned for life by the IAAF and his father resigned as honorary IOC member over the corruption affair.

Tokyo 2020 officials have always denied bribery allegations, including earlier Thursday when they responded to a report from Wednesday's The Guardian which mentioned the payments.

"We understand the campaign for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics was conducted in a clean way," Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga told a news conference.

"If we receive a request from French authorities, our country will respond appropriately.” Suga said the government has no plan to question the Tokyo Olympics organizing committee or carry out its own investigation into the allegations.

Last update: Thu, 23/06/2016 - 18:24
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