TOKYO (AP) – Japanese prosecutors raided the headquarters of major advertising firm Dentsu on Friday, as a corruption investigation related to the Tokyo Olympics widens.
Local TV broadcasters showed Tokyo district attorneys and Japan Fair Trade Commission officials entering Dentsu’s headquarters.
Dentsu dominates event planning, marketing and public relations in Japan. It helped get to the Tokyo 2020 Games, then amassed record-breaking domestic sponsorship.
Former Dentsu executive Haruyuki Takahashi has been arrested four times in recent months on charges of taking bribes from various companies that became sponsors of the games.
Recent investigations focus on bid-rigging for companies that will be selected to work on test events, according to Japanese media reports. Test events began in 2018, and involved various sports including sailing and weightlifting, in preparation for the Olympics. Being selected for the test events is crucial to choosing the actual Olympic venues.
The total money exchanged for bid-rigging was 500 million yen ($3.6 million), involving nine companies and one organization, according to the Nihon Keizai Shimbun and other reports.
Among the companies involved in the past sponsorship scandal were Aoki Holdings, a clothing company that dressed the Japanese Olympic team, and Sun Arrow, which produced Tokyo Olympic and Paralympic mascots Miraitowa and Someity.
Takahashi, who has been in custody since August, has had a tremendous impact on the Olympics administration. The bribes he allegedly took total more than 190 million yen ($1.4 million).
“We continue to fully cooperate with this investigation,” Dentsu’s communications office said in a statement.
Cerespo, an event company that Japanese reports said was also raided on suspicion of bid-rigging, had no immediate comment.
Tokyo prosecutors do not comment on such daily news developments. But Deputy Attorney General Hiroshi Morimoto recently told reporters that the investigation into the Olympics is continuing.
Speculation is growing that the growing scandal may taint Japan’s bid to host the 2030 Winter Games. The 2020 Games have been postponed for a year due to the coronavirus pandemic. The IOC said it was monitoring Japan’s investigation, stressing that it was “interested in a full clarification of this issue”.
Yuri Kageyama on Twitter https://twitter.com/yurikageyama