President of Brazilian Olympic Committee arrested

Volunteers stand near a set of Olympic Rings at Olympic Park in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Friday, July 29, 2016. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky)

RIO DE JANEIRO (AP) — The president of the Brazilian Olympic Committee was arrested Thursday amid an investigation into a vote-buying scheme to bring last year’s Olympics to Rio de Janeiro.

Carlos Nuzman, who is also an honorary International Olympic Committee member, was held for questioning last month by Brazilian and French authorities. They said he was a central figure in channeling $2 million to Lamine Diack, a former IOC member from Senegal who helped secure votes when Rio was picked by the IOC in 2009.

On Thursday, police said Nuzman would be held because investigators found he had tried to hamper the investigation by regularizing assets likely gained with illicit money. About two weeks after being held for questioning, Nuzman amended his tax declaration to add about $600,000 in income, according to the arrest order.

“He clearly acted to obstruct the investigation,” said the order, adding that the lack of a clear origin of the extra money “indicated it was illicit.”

Investigators said they had also recovered a key they believed was for a safe in Switzerland containing gold.

In Nuzman’s last 10 years as Brazilian Olympic Committee president, his net worth increased 457 percent, according to investigators.

Nuzman’s lawyer, Nelio Machado, told news portal G1 that being detained like this was “harsh and unusual.”

Leonardo Gryner, director-general of operations for the organizing committee, was also arrested Thursday morning.

Brazilian authorities have said the behind-the-scenes dealings to win the vote amounted to a “criminal organization.” The 75-year-old Nuzman was one of the most prominent figures in bringing the games to Rio.

In a statement, the IOC said it was fully cooperating with the investigation and conducting its own probe.

“Given the new facts, the IOC ethics commission may consider provisional measures while respecting Mr. Nuzman’s right to be heard,” said the statement, which did not offer more details.

Copyright 2017 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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