Ex-Tokyo Olympics leader faces new charge in growing bribery scandal

Haruyuki Takahashi. (Kyodo)

TOKYO (Kyodo) — Prosecutors on Tuesday issued a new arrest warrant for Haruyuki Takahashi, a former executive of the Tokyo Olympics organizing committee, for allegedly accepting bribes from a publicity in a growing corruption scandal over the selection of sponsors for the Summer Games.

Prosecutors suspect Takahashi and an acquaintance received 15 million yen ($104,000) in bribes from Daiko Advertising Inc. in exchange for asking the organizing committee to use the Osaka-based company as an agent for a major English conversation school operator, which became a sponsor of last year’s sporting event in September 2018, a source familiar with the matter said.

The Tokyo District Procuratorate’s special team also arrested Daiko leader Yoshikazu Taniguchi for allegedly bribing Takahashi and Fukami. Prosecutors searched Taniguchi’s home in Nishinomiya, Hyogo Prefecture earlier today.

Takahashi has previously been indicted for taking bribes of approximately 51 million yen from business suit retailer Aoki Holdings Inc. and arrested for allegedly accepting bribes of approximately 76 million yen. yen from the major publishing company Kadokawa Corp. in exchange for helping them land sponsorships.

In the Daiko case, prosecutors suspect that the money in question transferred from the ad agency to a consulting firm run by Kazumasa Fukami, Takahashi’s acquaintance, amounted to bribes for Takahashi, it said. The source.

Fukami was arrested for allegedly conspiring with Takahashi to allow the latter to receive a bribe from Kadokawa through his consulting firm.

Prosecutors believe Takahashi, 78, a former chief executive of Japan’s largest advertising agency Dentsu Inc., wielded considerable influence over the organizing committee’s marketing division.

The division, which was responsible for selecting sponsors for the games, had many Dentsu employees on loan.

In the spreading bribery scandal, prosecutors are also looking into whether Takahashi pressured the organizing committee to do favors for plush toy maker Sun Arrow Inc. for the sale of merchandise for the sporting event, the source said. The Tokyo company provided about 8 million yen to Takahashi, he said.

Additionally, Takahashi also reportedly requested that major advertising agency ADK Holdings Inc. be engaged to act as an agent for a sponsor.

The Olympics and Paralympics were originally scheduled to be held in 2020 but were postponed for a year due to the coronavirus pandemic.

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