According to reports from Reuters and Japanese media, Dentsu, the Japanese advertising giant is under criminal investigation for “donations” related to Tokyo's successful bid to host the 2020 Olympic Games.
Reuters reports that in addition to “donation” activities, Dentsu lobbied members of the International Olympic Committee (IOC) in and worked with a Singapore consultant, who French government investigators suspect of bribing Olympic voters in Tokyo's favor.
Reuters said in their report that Tan Tong Han, the Singaporean consultant, is suspected to have passed a sum of $2.3 million USD, that was paid to his company, by the Tokyo Olympics campaign committee, and that this money was then paid by Tan to Papa Massata Diack, the son of International Olympic Council member Lamine Diack, to buy votes for Tokyo’s Olympic bid.
According to the Reuters report, Dentsu transferred $6.2 million USD into the Tokyo campaign’s sponsorship account. The amount paid by Dentsu was a previously undisclosed contribution, and was more than 10% of the total that bid sponsors provided.
Dentsu has confirmed the payment, but declined to specify the amount that the company paid, even though all Tokyo Olympic Game financial reports are supposed to be a matter of public record. Dentsu also says that while its staff provided various “advice and information to the bid committee” when requested that it had no official consulting role.
The International Olympic Committee has established a variety of rules and regulations that relate to the conduct of cities that host the games as well as personnel and sponsor companies who are associated with the games.
Article 10 of the IOC’s rules stipulates the of conduct of cities that are bidding to host the games and states that its “top tier” of advertisers and marketing partners “shall refrain from supporting or promoting any of the cities” in order to “preserve the integrity and neutrality” of the bidding process.
Dentsu claims that is had done nothing wrong and that all of its activities during Tokyo’s campaign adhered to the IOC’s rules of conduct. The company says that based upon its understanding of the IOC rules, that it did not violate any rules prohibiting IOC sponsors and marketing partners from supporting or promoting any candidate cities.
Dentsu said in a statement that, “We provided a donation in response to a request for support from the bid committee, after an adequate internal corporate process.” Notably the company did not say whether it directed the use of those monies or had knowledge of how its “donations” had been used.
French authorities have said they are investigating whether Dentsu’s funds were used as bribes to secure votes for the Tokyo games and are scrutinizing Dentsu’s role.
A 2016 interview transcript that seen by Reuters, and not previously reported, Japan Olympic Committee investigators were told by Kiyoshi Nakamura, a Dentsu executive, that the IOC had an “adult understanding” of Dentsu’s role in working directly with the Tokyo campaign.” Nakamura said that, “the IOC told us not to do it publicly.”
A report by the JOC in 2016 that looked into whether any corruption took place in the Tokyo bid found no wrongdoing, but the JOC’s records from their probe, including interview transcripts, has never been provided to French prosecutors.