One of several Japanese officials charged in a bribery scandal involving organizers of the Tokyo Olympics was found guilty in court on Tuesday, but will not serve time in jail.
Joji Matsui, the former head of Amuse consulting company, was convicted in Tokyo District Court in the first verdict for someone who received bribes from companies seeking sponsorships and licensing for the 2020 Olympic Games.
Matsui was sentenced to two years in prison, suspended for four years.
Presiding Judge Kenji Yasunaga said evidence revealed that Matsui allowed his company bank account to be used to disguise the transfer of funds to Haruyuki Takahashi, an executive on the Japanese Olympic and Paralympic organizing committee with considerable influence in selecting sponsors.
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Yasunaga said the bribes of about 27 million yen, or $186,000, were significant and that “the damage to public trust has been great.”
Acknowledging guilt during the trial, Matsui’s defense team argued that he was simply following orders from Takahashi. This, along with him appearing remorseful, contributed to the court’s decision to give him a suspended sentence instead of prison time, the Associated Press reported.
Takahashi has been charged with receiving bribes from five companies, estimated at nearly 200 million yen, or $1.4 million. He has denied the charges and his trial will be held at a later date, which has not yet been set.
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Previous verdicts in the widespread Olympic bribery scandal, in which 15 people have been charged, have also included suspended sentences. Some involved included officials at Sun Arrow, which made the Olympic mascots, and Aoki Holdings, a clothing manufacturer tasked with dressing the Japanese Olympic team.
A verdict is set for next week for Shinji Ueno, former president of an advertising company known as ADK, who is also accused of bribing Takahashi.
The Japanese city of Sapporo had initially hoped to volunteer to host the 2030 Winter Olympics, but the bid has recently been silenced as the Tokyo bribery trials move forward.
A separate trial is taking place in Japan involving bid-rigging for contracts in connection with the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games. Advertising company Dentsu is among the accused.
Last month, French police searched the headquarters of the Paris Olympic organizing committee as part of an investigation into contracts linked to the Olympic Games, French prosecutors said. Paris will host the Summer Olympics in 2024.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
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