The former head of the Brazilian Olympic Committee, Carlos Arthur Nuzman, has been sentenced to 30 years and 11 months behind bars for allegedly buying votes for the city of Rio de Janeiro to host the 2016 Olympics.
The 79-year-old former volleyball player for the Brazilian national team served as the country’s top Olympics official for over two decades.
Nuzman, who also headed the Rio 2016 organizing committee, was found guilty of corruption, money laundering, tax evasion and criminal organization, according to the Brazilian news portal G1.
The ruling was announced Thursday by Judge Marcelo Bretas from the 7th Criminal Court in Rio de Janeiro.
“The culpability is high, as Carlos Arthur Nuzman was the main creator of the illicit scheme examined in these records and thus acted taking advantage of the high position achieved over 22 years as President of the Brazilian Olympic Committee, which is why his conduct must be valued more rigorously than that of any corrupt person,” Bretas wrote in his 50-page ruling.
Former Rio de Janeiro Gov. Sérgio Cabral, former Rio 2016 executive Leonardo Gryner, and businessman Arthur César de Menezes Soares Filho also received jail sentences for their part in the alleged bribery scheme.
Cabral, who served as Rio’s governor from 2003 to 2010, has been in jail since 2016 serving a 390-year prison sentence for corruption.
During the investigation, which began in 2017, he told Bretas that he had paid $2 million — which he allegedly received from Soares — in exchange for up to six International Olympic Committee votes that eventually awarded Rio de Janeiro the 2016 summer games.
Rio beat out finalist cities Chicago, Tokyo and Madrid to become the first city in South America to stage the Olympics.
In 2017, a report by the French newspaper Le Monde found that some IOC members had been bribed just days before the 2009 vote in Copenhagen when Rio was picked as the host city for the 2016 games — prompting Brazilian officials to launch an investigation.
Nuzman was first arrested in October 2017.
On Thursday, his lawyers said that the judge had convicted him “without proof” and that Nuzman will appeal the verdict. He’ll be able to remain free until all appeals are exhausted.