Rio Olympic head leaves prison; will face corruption charges
RIO DE JANEIRO (AP):
Carlos Nuzman, who headed last year's Rio de Janeiro Olympics, left prison yesterday after his arrest two weeks ago on eventual charges that he arranged bribes to land the games for Brazil.
The 75-year-old Brazilian is to stand trial for money laundering, tax evasion, and racketeering, though it's unclear how long that will take under Brazil's slow-moving justice system.
Brazilian and French authorities say Nuzman helped direct about US$2 million to Papa Massata Diack to win votes to land the 2016 Olympics.
In the 2009 vote by the International Olympic Committee (IOC), Lamine Diack - Papa Massata Diack's father - was a powerful IOC member from Senegal with sway over Africa's voting bloc.
Rio's Olympics, although a sporting success, left behind a half-dozen empty sports venues.
Nuzman's local organising committee still owes creditors between US$30-40 million, and many of the projects built for the games are linked to corruption scandals blanketing Brazil.
Brazil's Superior Court of Justice ordered Nuzman's release, but his passports are being held - he is reported to hold three - and he cannot leave the country. He is also barred from contact with the IOC, the Brazilian Olympic Committee, and the local organising committee.
Nuzman's defence argued that the elderly Brazilian is in poor health and should not be held in prison.
The filings against Nuzman say he has undeclared assets in Switzerland, including 16, 1-kilogram gold bars. Prosecutors estimate his net worth increased 457 percent in his last 10 years as the Brazilian Olympic Committee president.
He headed that body for 22 years and also headed Rio's 2007 Pan American Games.
"While Olympic medallists chased their dreams of gold medals, leaders of the Brazilian Olympic Committee stashed their gold in Switzerland," prosecutor Fabiana Schenider said when Nuzman was arrested earlier this month.
Schenider added that the "Olympic Games were used as a big trampoline for acts of corruption."
Leonardo Gryner, Nuzman's right-hand man at the organising committee, has also been charged by Brazilian prosecutors. So have both Diacks, former Rio governor Sergio Cabral, and businessman Arthur Cesar de Menezes Soares Filho.
Brazilian authorities say the country spent about US$13 billion to organise the Olympics - a mix of public and private money - though one estimate suggested it spent US$20 billion.