The former president of major Japanese advertising agency ADK Holdings Inc. admitted in a court hearing Friday to having bribed a Tokyo Olympic organizing committee executive in connection with the 2021 sporting event.
At the Tokyo District Court, Shinichi Ueno, 69, admitted to providing a total of around 14 million yen ($104,000) to Haruyuki Takahashi, 78, who exercised influence over the committee's marketing division and has been indicted four times for receiving bribes.
Prosecutors said in their opening statement in the first court hearing that the payment to Takahashi, formerly an executive of Japan's largest ad agency Dentsu Inc., had continued despite ADK Holdings' corporate lawyer having warned the money would be the equivalent of bribery.
Ueno denied the allegation when he was arrested by Tokyo prosecutors in October, but was released on bail in January after admitting to it. Previous requests for bail had been denied.
Ueno, who prosecutors said was feeling desperate due to the lack of progress in securing a contract related to sponsorship, was quoted as asking Takahashi for help while dining together. The former Olympics executive had replied affirmatively, prosecutors said.
Dentsu had had a contract with the now-dissolved organizing committee to serve as an exclusive agency to solicit sponsors and was able to outsource work.
Although Dentsu initially told ADK Holdings that its appointment was difficult, it was eventually selected as a marketing agent for Tokyo-based parking service operator Park24 Co. which became an Olympics sponsor after Takahashi had repeatedly urged Dentsu to pick the company as an agent, prosecutors said.
According to the indictment, Ueno colluded with former senior ADK Holdings officials Shigeharu Hisamatsu, 63, and Toshiaki Tada, 60, and requested Takahashi to select their company as a marketing agent to solicit sponsors for the event.
They sent the money between November 2019 and January 2022 to a consulting firm headed by Takahashi, the indictment said.
A total of 15 people have been indicted in connection with five separate channels for bribes in the scandal that has tarnished the image of the Olympics and Paralympics.
Former chairman of major business suit retailer Aoki Holdings Inc., Hironori Aoki, 84, and two other senior officials admitted to bribery charges in court in December. The ruling by the Tokyo District Court will be handed down on April 21.