Former Tokyo Games Executive Pleads Guilty to Bid-rigging Charges

Pool photo / The Yomiuri Shimbun
Defendant Yasuo Mori, center, enters Tokyo District Court in Kasumigaseki, Tokyo, on Wednesday.

A former executive of the Tokyo Games organizing committee’s Operations Bureau admitted to charges of bid-rigging Wednesday at the first hearing of a trial at Tokyo District Court looking into allegations of Games-linked corruption.

The prosecutors alleged in their opening statement that Yasuo Mori, 56, and advertising giant Dentsu Group Inc. coordinated which companies would win bids to plan and run Games-related events.

Mori pleaded guilty to the charges and said the facts of the indictment were correct.

Six companies, including Dentsu, and seven individuals have been indicted for bid-rigging. Mori’s case is the first to be tried.

As Mori is suspected of having a leading role in the bid-rigging, his testimony about the motive and circumstances surrounding the bidding process will be a focus of attention.

According to the indictment, the seven individuals, including Mori and Koji Henmi, 55, a former executive of Dentsu’s Sports Business Division, colluded from February to July 2018 to decide in advance who would win bids for such projects as planning and running Olympic test events and the main Games events.

Between May and August of the same year, 26 bids were submitted for the planning of pre-Games events, and the six companies, including Dentsu and Hakuhodo Inc., and seven other firms won contracts worth a total of about ¥500 million.

The nine companies were also awarded negotiated contracts for the operation of pre-Games events and main events worth a total of about ¥43.7 billion.

The prosecutors alleged in their opening statement that Mori had asked Dentsu — which had extensive experience in managing sports events — to cooperate in coordinating before the bidding process the preferred bids of companies.

They alleged that Mori prepared and shared with Henmi a list of each company’s preferences for event venues, and the firms agreed on the winning bidder a month before the bid.

The prosecutors alleged that the companies were informed in advance of the organizing committee’s intention that the winning bidders for planning pre-Games events would, if all went well, also be entrusted with organizing pre-Games events and main events.

They also alleged that each company was required to propose cost-cutting measures for the main Games events as part of the bidding process.

The special investigation squad of the Tokyo District Public Prosecutors Office believes that of the nine companies that won bids, the six indicted companies and advertising giant ADK Holdings Inc. were involved in bid-rigging.

However, no charges have been filed against ADK as it voluntarily reported the violations to the Fair Trade Commission under the Antimonopoly Law’s leniency system, which reduces or waives penalties for self-reported violations.

Suspected bid-rigging was uncovered during an investigation into a bribery case in which Haruyuki Takahashi, a former executive board member of the organizing committee, has been indicted for allegedly accepting bribes.