Carlos Arthur Nuzman, the head of the Brazilian Olympic Committee for over two decades, was sentenced for 30 years and 11 months in prison for allegedly rigging the votes in South America’s favor to host the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro.
Judge Marcelo Bretas made the ruling public Thursday night, detailing Carlos Arthur Nuzman’s wide-ranging corruption through all levels of the athletic committee.
The 79-year-old Rio Olympics Chief was convicted after being found guilty of buying votes to host the Olympic Games. As head of the Rio 2016 organizing committee, he was also found guilty of money laundering, tax evasion, bribery, and criminal organization.
Carlos Arthur Nuzman has yet to comment on the ruling. His lawyers plan to appeal the ruling, and he will allegedly not serve his sentence until all of his appeals have been heard.
Former Rio de Janeiro Governor Sergio Cabral, businessmen Arthur “King Arthur” Soares, and Rio 2016 committee director-general of operations Leonardo Gryner, were also convicted of bribery after attempting to buy votes from Lamine Diack, the former president of the International Association of Athletics Federations, and his son Papa Diack.
According to ESPN, Cabral has been in jail since 2016 and faces the possibility of many more crimes in ongoing investigations into his criminal affairs. His previous convictions have totaled a sentence of over 200 years in prison.
He confessed to Judge Bretas that he paid over $2 million for six votes in the International Olympic Committee (IOC) meeting that resulted in Rio de Janeiro winning the claim to 2016’s Olympic Games. Cabral revealed that another $500,000 went to Papa Diack for three more votes, and that the money came from debts that businessmen Arthur Soares owed him.
“Given his position in the Brazilian Olympic Committee and before international authorities,” Judge Bretas stated in the courtroom, Carlos Arthur Nuzman was responsible for “the promotion and the organization of the criminal scheme.”
“The convict dedicated his public career to making Rio de Janeiro the host city for the Olympics,” he said. “However, despite such social responsibility, he chose to act against morality and public property.”
The former Olympics committee chief “headed and coordinated action of the other agents, clearly as a leader,” the judge continued. He also announced that he would send his ruling to Lamine Diack’s location in Senegal, as well as his son Papa Diack’s home in France.
According to The New York Times, authorities raided Carlos Arthur Nuzman’s home in 2017 and found roughly $155,000 in cash and a key to a vault in Switzerland that held 16 bars of gold.
Even before the voting corruption, Brazil’s Olympic Games were already marred by construction violations and graft. Tearing down favelas occupied by the city’s poorest citizens, an attempt to rebuild for the Summer Games ended up destroying communities and lining the pockets of the rich.
“I’m so emotional today,” said Eric Maleson, a former member of the International Olympic Committee. He allegedly wrote on multiple occasions during his tenure about Carlos Arthur Nuzman’s misdeeds to IOC President Thomas Bach and former-head Jacques Rogge, but his attempts to root out corruption fell on deaf ears.
“I tried everything I could to persuade the highest ranks of the IOC to intervene before this situation got out of control,” he told The New York Times. “They never looked for me, they never called me.”
“Perhaps now,” he said, “they will call me and invite me as someone who did the right thing.”
Eric Maleson was introduced as one of the main witnesses in Nuzman’s trial, sharing many emails between committee director-general Leonardo Gryner and Papa Diack. Cabral, the city’s former mayor, also confessed to his many conversations and crimes that led to bribing officials for votes.
Rio de Janeiro’s corruption beat out major cities such as Chicago, Tokyo, and Madrid in their bid to host the 2016 Summer Olympic Games.