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Investigators focus on Miami investor in possible bid-rigging for 2016 Brazil Olympics

Emily L. Mahoney and Malu Gaspar, Miami Herald on

Published in Olympics

Then Cabral's world caved in. First he stepped down as governor, bowing to pressure from a discontented public, and then he was arrested on bribery charges. In hopes of reducing his sentence, Cabral offered up dirt on his associates, including Soares.

Cabral promised to reveal details of a meeting held in 2009 with Soares, Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva and Mayor Eduardo Paes, according to three sources who have seen the proposal document. The alleged purpose of the meeting: to authorize Soares to bribe a member of the International Olympic Committee to vote for Rio as the 2016 host city.

Prosecutors did not accept Cabral's offer. The investigation of that meeting continues, however.

Business documents filed with the state of Florida, court records and real estate deeds provide a glimpse of Soares' life in Miami. But finding the man himself -- a man with a reputation for extreme discretion -- is like chasing a ghost. An agent who leased him restaurant space says he never met Soares. Neither did the person who bought Soares' $2.1 million house on Key Biscayne.

Even a Miami lawyer who represented Soares' companies in a lawsuit said he never spoke to his client.

The Rio Olympic scandal started as an international investigation into alleged Russian doping and corruption among leaders of the International Association of Athletics Federations. But as investigators began to dig, they stumbled upon suspicious dealings surrounding the votes that chose the cities for the Summer Games in 2020 (Tokyo) and 2016 (Rio), according to reports published in The Guardian and Le Monde.

 

France, which has a powerful financial investigative body, was then assigned to find the truth. The investigation is still in its early stages, but has already determined that a British Virgin Islands-based offshore company tied to Soares was involved in a chain of suspicious wire transfers, according to Le Monde.

According to Le Monde, Soares allegedly used the offshore to pay $500,000 to Papa Massate Diack, the son of Lamine Diack, a Senegalese IOC voter and then the president of the IAAF, a source close to the French investigation said. That money was then transferred to a Russian account.

Le Monde reported that three days before the IOC's vote on the 2016 host city, Soares' company transferred an additional $1.5 million to Papa Massate. Investigators are following the money from there, with the French publication reporting that -- on the day of the vote -- about $300,000 went to a committee member in a leadership role.

Rio won by a landslide.

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