Carlos Arthur Nuzman, the head of the Brazilian Olympic Committee for more than two decades, has been sentenced to 30 years and 11 months in jail for allegedly buying votes for Rio de Janeiro to host the 2016 Olympics. The ruling by Judge Marcelo Bretas became public on Thursday.
Nuzman, who also headed the Rio 2016 organising committee, was found guilty of corruption, criminal organisation, money laundering and tax evasion. The 79-year-old executive won’t be jailed until all his appeals are heard. He and his lawyer did not comment on the decision.
Bretas also sentenced to jail former Rio governor Sergio Cabral, businessman Arthur Soares and Leonardo Gryner, who was the Rio 2016 committee director-general of operations. Investigators say all three and Nuzman coordinated to bribe the former president of the International Association of Athletics Federations, Lamine Diack, and his son Papa Massata Diack for votes. Papa Massata Diack has previously denied the allegations to the Guardian and accused Cabral of trying to cut a deal.
Lamine Diack was sentenced to four years in jail, with two suspended in September 2020 by a French court in relation to money laundering and corruption over Russian doping; Papa Massata Diack was sentenced in absentia to five years in prison and fined £1m. Both indicated their intention to appeal.
Cabral, who has been in jail since 2016 and faces a series of other convictions and investigations, told Bretas two years ago he had paid about $2m in exchange for up to six votes in the International Olympic Committee (IOC) meeting that awarded Rio the Olympic and Paralympic Games. He said the money had come from a debt owed to him by Soares.
Cabral, who governed Rio state between 2003 and 2010, added that another $500,000 was paid later to Diack’s son with the aim of securing three more votes of IOC members.
Bretas’s ruling labels Nuzman as “one of the main responsibles for the promotion and the organisation of the criminal scheme, given his position in the Brazilian Olympic Committee and before international authorities”. The judge also said the sports executive “headed and coordinated action of the other agents, clearly as a leader” to illegally garnish support at the IOC.
The judge said he will send the results of the investigation to authorities in Senegal and France, where Papa Massata Diack and Lamine Diack live, respectively.
Rio’s bid beat Chicago, Tokyo and Madrid to host the 2016 Games. The investigation in Brazil began in 2017 after French newspaper Le Monde found members of the IOC had been bribed three days before the 2009 session in Copenhagen where Rio was picked to host the Games.