Japanese investigators attack Dentsu to expand Olympic investigation

TOKYO (AP) – Japanese prosecutors raided the headquarters of advertising giant Dentsu on Friday as the investigation into corruption related to the Tokyo Olympics widened.

Major local TV stations showed Tokyo District prosecutors and the Japan Fair Trade Commission entering the Dentsu headquarters.

Dentsu dominates events, marketing and public relations in Japan. It helped land the 2020 Games for Tokyo, and then set record domestic sponsorships.

Haruyuki Takahashi, a former executive at Dentsu, has been arrested four times in recent months on charges of accepting bribes from various companies that became sponsors of the Games.

The latest investigation centers around bid-rigging for companies to be selected to work on test events, according to Japanese media. The test events started in 2018 and span different sports, including sailing and weightlifting, to prepare for the Olympics. Being selected for test events is critical to being selected for actual Olympic venues.

The money that changed hands for the bid-rigging amounted to 500 million yen ($3.6 million), involving nine companies and one organization, according to the Nihon Keizai Shimbun newspaper and other reports.

The companies involved in the earlier sponsorship scandal include Aoki Holdings, a clothing company that dressed Japan’s Olympic team, and Sun Arrow, which produced Tokyo Olympic and Paralympic mascots named Miraitowa and Someity.

Takahashi, who has been in custody since August, had a huge impact on the running of the Olympics. The bribes he is alleged to have received total more than ¥190 million ($1.4 million).

“We continue to cooperate fully with this investigation,” Dentsu’s corporate communications office said in a statement.

Cerespo, an events company that Japanese reports said was also raided on suspicion of involvement in bid-rigging, did not have an immediate comment.

Tokyo prosecutors do not comment on such daily news. But Deputy Chief Prosecutor Hiroshi Morimoto recently told reporters that the investigation is continuing into the Olympics.

Speculation has heightened the budding scandal that could taint Japan’s bid for the 2030 Winter Games. The 2020 Games were postponed a year due to the coronavirus pandemic. The International Olympic Committee has said it is monitoring Japan’s investigation, stressing that it had “every interest in the full clarification of this matter.”

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Yuri Kageyama is on Twitter https://twitter.com/yurikageyama

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