Tuesday, August 16, 2022

Former Tokyo Olympic executive’s home raided on suspicion of bribery

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Tokyo prosecutors on Tuesday raided the home of a former executive of the Tokyo Olympic organizing committee on suspicion he may have received bribes from a sponsor, according to local media reports.

The prosecutors searched the residence, the headquarters of Tokyo-based advertising agency Dentsu, and other sites related to Haruyuki Takahashi, 78, who is believed to have illicitly received around 45 million yen (329,000 U.S. dollars) from major business suit retailer Aoki Holdings Inc.

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Takahashi, a former senior managing director at advertising giant Dentsu, is suspected of influencing Aoki Holdings’ selection as a Games sponsor by way of a consulting firm he headed.

Takahashi’s consulting firm reportedly signed the deal with Aoki Holdings worth 1 million yen (7,000 U.S. dollars) per month in September 2017, with the “official supporter” deal being announced one year later.

Japanese law prohibits members of the Tokyo Olympic organizing committee from accepting money or gifts related to their duties. Violating this law constitutes bribery.

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The contract allowed Aoki to use the events’ emblems for business purposes and sell officially licensed products, including suits bearing the emblems, Kyodo News reported.

Aoki’s former chairman and founder Hironori Aoki told prosecutors that his company paid the funds and that he believed Takahashi had influence as a committee executive in selecting Aoki as a major sponsor of the Games, local media said.

The prosecutors, in the days ahead, will scrutinize potential evidence seized during the raids on Tuesday to track the flow of funds, investigative sources here said.

Takahashi, for his part, has told media outlets here that he signed a standard business contract as a sports consultant and did not exert his influence in the lucrative deal involving Aoki Holdings.

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Aoki Holdings, meanwhile, has agreed to fully cooperate with investigators, local media said.

Seiko Hashimoto, president of the organizing committee at the time and an upper house member for the ruling Liberal Democratic Party, was quoted as saying Tuesday that the investigation into Takahashi’s possible graft scandal was “extremely regrettable.”

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