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Rio Olympics chief sentenced to 30 years for bribery

A court has sentenced a former president of the Brazilian Olympic Committee to more than 30 years in prison for buying votes to win Rio de Janeiro’s bid to host the 2016 Olympics.

Carlos Nuzman, 79, was convicted in federal court of masterminding the payment of around $2 million in bribes to the former head of the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF), Lamine Diack, and his son Papa Massata Diack to buy votes for Rio’s candidacy.

The ex-official was convicted of corruption, organized crime, money laundering and smuggling cash, Rio de Janeiro Judge Marcelo Bretas said in sentencing Nuzman on Thursday to 30 years and 11 months.

Nuzman, who led the Brazilian Olympic Committee (COB) from 1995 to 2017, was granted conditional release following his arrest four years ago and will now remain free pending appeal.

The court also convicted ex-COB operations and marketing director Leonardo Gryner and former Rio de Janeiro governor Sergio Cabral, who has already been serving a series of corruption sentences since 2016.

Nuzman and Gryner “oversaw the payment of bribes to African Olympics officials with the aim of guaranteeing Rio de Janeiro would be elected host city for the 2016 Olympic Games,” the judge wrote.

He found Nuzman, who was also head of the Rio Olympics organizing committee, had arranged huge bribes to Senegalese athletics heavyweight Diack and his son ahead of the 2009 International Olympic Committee (IOC) vote in Copenhagen to decide the Summer Olympics host city.

Nuzman and Gryner are accused of negotiating with Diack and his son to buy six IOC members’ votes, giving Rio the edge over rival candidates Chicago, Madrid and Tokyo.

“Nuzman was one of the primary people responsible for organizing this criminal scheme, given his position, directing and coordinating the activities of the other participants and playing a clear role as leader,” the judge wrote.

He found the money was transferred at Cabral’s request, using a middleman with an offshore company in the British Virgin Islands.

Gryner was sentenced to 13 years and 10 months, and Cabral to 10 years and eight months.

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