October 1, 2023

French police search Paris Olympics HQ amid embezzlement investigation

2 min read

Police have searched the headquarters of the Paris 2024 Olympics organising committee, as well as its major infrastructure partner, as part of investigations into alleged embezzlement of public funds and favouritism.

The national financial prosecutor’s office said the Paris 2024 headquarters in Saint-Denis, a suburb to the north of Paris, were raided on Tuesday as part of a preliminary investigation launched in 2017 into contracts made by the summer Games’s organising committee.

The headquarters of Solideo, the public body responsible for delivering Olympic and Paralympic infrastructure, was also being searched amid a preliminary investigation dating back to 2022 following an audit by the French anti-corruption agency, the financial prosecutor’s office added.

“A search is currently under way at the headquarters of the organising committee,” Paris 2024 said in a statement. “Paris 2024 is cooperating fully with the investigators to facilitate their inquiries.”

“We do not have anything else to share at the moment,” a spokesperson added.

The Olympic Games will be held from 26 July to 11 August in Paris next year, with the Paralympic Games taking place 28 August-6 September. Both have been promoted as transparent and ethical by organisers.

An official with the financial prosecutor’s office told Associated Press that the searches were linked to two preliminary investigations related to the Paris Olympics that had not previously been made public.

According to Le Monde newspaper, raids also took place at the headquarters of several companies and consultants linked to the organisation of the games.

One of the investigations was opened in 2017 — the year Paris was picked by the International Olympic Committee (IOC) as the 2024 host — into suspected embezzlement of public funds and favouritism, and concerns about an unspecified contract reached by Paris organisers, the prosecutor’s office said.

The other was opened in 2022 following an audit by the French anti-corruption agency. The prosecutor’s office said that case targets suspected conflict of interest and favouritism involving several contracts reached by the organising committee and Solideo.

The raids unfolded at the same time as the IOC executive board began a two-day meeting in Lausanne, Switzerland, which was expected to praise Paris organisers for their progress.

Thomas Bach, the IOC president, told reporters early Monday the meeting “of course will be about Paris, where we have some good news after the visit of the coordination mission and after my visit to France, to President Macron, and also the organising committee.”

The IOC said it expected to release a statement on Tuesday about the police searches.

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