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News Dentsu and five other firms indicted over Olympics bid-rigging

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Unswerving cyclist
14 Mar 2002
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For months, Dentsu, the largest advertising company in Japan, has been facing scrutiny for its role in the controversial Tokyo Olympics and its cosy relationship with the Japanese government. The company was involved in critical decisions related to the games, such as selecting the logo and proceeding with the event during the COVID-19 pandemic. Last Tuesday, Tokyo prosecutors indicted Dentsu, five other firms, and seven individuals over alleged bid-rigging on the Tokyo 2020 Olympics contracts after the Fair Trade Commission filed criminal complaints against them. The indictment marks the latest development in months of investigations into alleged corruption in the planning and sponsorship of the Tokyo Olympic and Paralympic Games, held in 2021 after a pandemic-driven postponement.

Dentsu HQ in Odaiba

Even before the Tokyo Olympics began, concerns about wrongdoing had surfaced. In 2016, French authorities said they had uncovered millions of dollars of payments made by Tokyo's Olympic organizing committee to a Singaporean firm to secure the winning bid to host the Games. The scandal led the head of the national Olympic committee, Tsunekazu Takeda, to resign. Mr Takeda has denied any wrongdoing. In the years since, additional corruption allegations have tainted the reputations of some of Japan's most prominent companies.

In August, prosecutors arrested top executives from the publishing giant Kadokawa and the business clothing retailer Aoki Holdings on bribery charges. A former Dentsu executive, Haruyuki Takahashi, who served on the committee's executive board charged with organizing the Tokyo Games, was also arrested. He has denied the charges against him. In December, Aoki Holdings' founder, Hironori Aoki, pleaded guilty to giving around $205,000 to Mr Takahashi. In a court appearance this month, the ex-president of the Japanese marketing company ADK admitted to paying Mr Takahashi over $100,000 as his company sought marketing opportunities linked to the Games.

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