Haruyuki Takahashi, a former Tokyo Olympic organizing committee executive arrested in a bribery case, may have been paid by an advertising company seeking favors for a client company during the sponsorship selection process, sources close to the matter said, with investigators searching the advertiser's offices on Monday.
The latest revelation comes on the heels of suspicions that clothing retailer Aoki Holdings Inc. and publishing company Kadokawa Corp. made payments to Takahashi in exchange for preferential treatment in the process of selecting Olympic sponsors.
A consulting firm run by an acquaintance of Takahashi, 78, was paid a total of 26 million yen ($185,000) over three occasions by Daiko Advertising Inc., a mid-tier advertising company based in the western Japan city of Osaka, with a portion believed to have been transferred to Takahashi, according to the sources.
The Tokyo District Public Prosecutors Office's special team searched the offices of Daiko, including in Tokyo, on suspicion of bribery.
Takahashi and his acquaintance are believed to have pushed for the organizing committee to use Daiko as an agent when selecting sponsors. The client company, which operates in the service industry, became a sponsor in 2018.
Takahashi, former Aoki Chairman Hironori Aoki, and two others have been arrested in connection with a separate allegation of bribery totaling around 51 million yen. A decision on whether to charge them will be made on Tuesday.
Kadokawa, which was selected as a sponsor in April 2019, was recently found to have also given a total of 70 million yen over 10 occasions to the entity run by Takahashi's acquaintance.
Daiko said in a statement it will fully cooperate with the investigation.
Prosecutors believe Takahashi, a former senior managing director of Japan's largest advertising agency, Dentsu Inc., held considerable sway over the organizing committee's marketing division.
The division, which was in charge of selecting sponsors for the summer games, borrowed many Dentsu employees.
The acquaintance, who was also a former Dentsu employee, may have asked Takahashi to help Kadokawa be chosen as a sponsor, according to the sources.
The Olympics and Paralympics were originally scheduled to be held in 2020 but were postponed by one year due to the coronavirus pandemic.