Olympic sponsor fee for Japan retailer in bribery scandal was more than halved -Kyodo

FILE PHOTO: General view shows the shop of Japanese retailer Aoki Holdings in Tokyo, Japan December 16, 2020. REUTERS/Issei Kato

TOKYO (Reuters) - The Tokyo 2020 Olympic sponsor fee for Japanese fashion firm Aoki Holdings was less than half the standard fee, news agency Kyodo reported on Thursday, one day after the arrest of the former Aoki chairman on suspicion of bribery.

To become a sponsor for the Tokyo 2020 Games, Aoki Holdings paid 500 million yen - less than half what other sponsors paid, according to the report.

Tokyo prosecutors arrested on Wednesday former chairman of Aoki Holdings Hironori Aoki, former member of the Tokyo 2020 Olympics board Haruyuki Takahashi and two other executives on suspicion of bribery. Reuters was not able to contact Aoki to ask for comment.

TV Asahi reported on Thursday that Takahashi denied the bribery suspicions to prosecutors. A spokesperson for prosecutors said they could not comment on the contents of ongoing investigations.

Aoki Holdings said in a statement on Thursday that it was fully cooperating with prosecutors but could not comment further as the investigation was ongoing.

Prosecutors said in a Wednesday statement that a total of 51 million yen had been sent from a bank account of Hironori Aoki's asset management firm to the bank account of a company run by Takahashi.

Reuters reported in 2020 that Takahashi, who was paid millions of dollars to work on Tokyo's successful bid for the Olympics, said he played a key role in securing the support of a former Olympics powerbroker who was later suspected by French prosecutors of taking bribes to help Japan's bid.

Takahashi told Reuters at that time his work included lobbying International Olympic Committee member Lamine Diack who he gave gifts, including digital cameras and a Seiko watch.

Takahashi said then that there was nothing improper with the payments he received or with the way he used the money.

Diack died at the age of 88 last year.

(Reporting by Sakura Murakami and Kiyoshi Takenaka; Editing by Michael Perry)

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