Rio Olympic head leaves prison, to face corruption charges

Carlos Nuzman is to stand trial for money laundering, tax evasion, and racketeering, though it’s unclear how long that will take under Brazil’s slow-moving justice system.

Brazilian and French authorities say Nuzman helped direct about $2 million to Papa Massata Diack to win votes to land the 2016 Olympics.   -  GETTY IMAGES

Carlos Nuzman left prison after his arrest two weeks ago on eventual charges that he arranged bribes to land the Olympics he headed last year in Rio de Janeiro.

Nuzman walked from a Rio prison wearing a white polo shirt, accompanied by his defense team and watched by a handful of curious bystanders.

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The 75-year-old Brazilian is to stand trial for money laundering, tax evasion, and racketeering, though it’s unclear how long that will take under Brazil’s slow-moving justice system.

Brazilian and French authorities say Nuzman helped direct about $2 million to Papa Massata Diack to win votes to land the 2016 Olympics.

In the 2009 vote by the International Olympic Committee, Lamine Diack — Papa Massata Diack’s father — was a powerful IOC member from Senegal with sway over Africa’s voting bloc.

Rio’s Olympics, although a sporting success, left behind a half-dozen empty sports venues. The subsequent Paralympic Games needed a government bailout to be staged just weeks after the Olympics ended.

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Nuzman’s local organizing committee still owes creditors between $30-40 million, and many of the projects built for the games are linked to corruption scandals blanketing Brazil.

Brazil’s Superior Court of Justice ordered Nuzman’s release, but his passports are being held — he is reported to hold three — and he cannot leave the country. He is also barred from contact with the IOC, the Brazilian Olympic Committee, and the local organising committee.

He resigned last week from the Brazilian Olympic Committee, and his honorary membership has been suspended by the IOC.

Nuzman’s defense argued that the elderly Brazilian is in poor health and should not be held in prison.

The filings against Nuzman say he has undeclared assets in Switzerland, including 16, 1-kilogram gold bars.

Prosecutors estimate his net worth increased 457 percent in his last 10 years as the Brazilian Olympic Committee president.

He headed that body for 22 years and also headed Rio’s 2007 Pan American Games.

“While Olympic medalists chased their dreams of gold medals, leaders of the Brazilian Olympic Committee stashed their gold in Switzerland,” prosecutor Fabiana Schenider said when Nuzman was arrested earlier this month.

Schenider added that the “Olympic Games were used as a big trampoline for acts of corruption.”

Leonardo Gryner, Nuzman’s right-hand man at the organising committee, has also been charged by Brazilian prosecutors. So have both Diacks, former Rio governor Sergio Cabral, and businessman Arthur Cesar de Menezes Soares Filho.

Brazilian authorities say the country spent about $13 billion to organise the Olympics — a mix of public and private money — though one estimate suggested it spent $20 billion.

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