A panel set up to investigate a US$2m payment made to a consultancy firm during Tokyo’s successful bid to host the 2020 Olympics has found no evidence of bribery.
Japanese officials have been cleared of any wrongdoing in connection with the payment made to the Singaporean consultancy firm Black Tidings run by Ian Tan Tong Han.
French prosecutors announced an investigation into the payment in May this year as part of a corruption inquiry.
The payment had been linked to the son of the ex-world athletics chief Lamine Diack, who was a member of the International Olympics Committee (IOC) at the time, the BBC reported.
Both Lamine and his son, Papa Massata Diack, are already under investigation in France. Both deny ever receiving money in connection with the Japanese bid, while Japanese officials say the payment was for consultancy services.
The independent panel, commissioned by the Japanese Olympic Committee (JOC), concluded in its report that the payments were not a bribe and did not break any Japanese laws.
“The investigation team concludes that it does not form any crime under the penal code of France, and furthermore, that no violation of the IOC code of ethics can be found,” the report said.
Yoshihisa Hayakawa, a lawyer and one of the panel members, said:
What was most important for the team was to probe whether the bid committee in fact bribed someone.
We think the investigation cleared the group of any suspicion in this regard.
While the US$2m fee is double the average the Tokyo bid team paid to other such consultants, Tan, a successful lobbyist, deserved the fee, the panel found in its report.
The investigators were unable to speak with Tan, Diack or his son, Papa Massata Diack, Hayakawa said. The team conducted hearings with members of the bid team and analysed relevant documents, the report said.
The investigation panel does not know exactly how Tan spent the money or whether he transferred it to Diack or his son, Hayakawa added.
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