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Japanese Olympic chief indicted in France for corruption

AFP  |  Paris 

The of has been charged in for "active corruption" in connection with the awarding of to Tokyo, a told AFP.

was indicted on December 10 by investigating magistrates looking into a suspect payment of 2.8 million Singapore dollars ($2.3 million) made before the Japanese capital was chosen to host the Olympics, the source said Friday.

beat and in the 2013 vote.

Takeda, a former Olympic showjumper who led the country's campaign for the Games, said he had cooperated with a French looking into the matter, adding: "I was not involved in any wrongdoing such as bribery."

The 71-year-old, who is a member of the International Committee (IOC), added that "wrong information that I was indicted has been shared," and pledged he would "cooperate with investigations to clear up any doubts." Takeda was "mis en examen" by the French magistrates, a legal step that has no direct equivalent in the American or British legal systems, but roughly translates as being charged.

It does not automatically trigger a trial, but it means that prosecutors believe there is strong or corroborated evidence of wrongdoing. The French investigation, launched in 2016, relates to two payments made to Singapore-based Black Tidings, a firm linked to Papa Massata Diack, son of the Senegalese former of the of Athletics Federations (IAAF), Lamine Diack.

The younger Diack, formerly a to the IAAF, has been accused of accepting bribes.

The funds, labelled "2020 Olympic Game Bid", were paid from a Japanese

The payments were made in two stages, before and after the IOC vote that decided the host city.

is investigating the case because funds involved might have been laundered in

Shortly after accusations first surfaced, the appointed a three-man judicial panel to look into the matter. The panel reportedly cleared the campaign committee of any wrongdoing in September 2016.

At the time, Japanese Olympic officials said the suspect funds were owed for "the legitimate payment of a consultant", adding that no one was aware of a link between and Papa

Papa Massata Diack, known as PMD, is suspected of having received several million euros in bribes, either for sponsorship contracts or to favour the and bids for the 2016 and 2020

has been on Interpol's most-wanted list since December 2015 but the refuses to extradite him to Last month, IOC formally requested that cooperate with French authorities investigating the corruption claims.

The French investigation comes at a tricky time in Franco-Japanese relations which have been strained by the shock arrest of car industry boss in Tokyo on financial misconduct charges.

Ghosn's arrest has exposed rifts in the alliance he forged and led between Japanese vehicle makers and Mitsubishi Motors, and France's Renault, which is partly owned by the French state.

A for the Japanese embassy in Paris, Yoshihiro Higuchi, said the was unaware that Takeda was being investigated.

of the indictment as Japanese visited to hold talks with representatives of the 2024 Olympics organising committee.

The French probe was launched in the wake of allegations of wide-scale corruption involving the IAAF, which was initially accused of helping Russian athletes evade sanctions imposed for failing doping tests.

A for the (IOC) said Friday it was monitoring the situation.

"Mr Takeda continues to enjoy the full presumption of innocence," the said.

Allegations under investigation "refer to events before the IOC introduced far-reaching reforms," the also said, adding that Olympic consultants were now fully vetted.

(This story has not been edited by Business Standard staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

First Published: Sat, January 12 2019. 00:55 IST