The leader of Japan’s bid for the 2020 Summer Olympics and other Japanese officials said the company at the centre of questions raised about payments by the bid committee was a legitimate firm and not a paper company.

The Guardian newspaper reported last week that the Tokyo bid team made payments totalling more than $2m to a Singapore bank account it said was linked to Papa Massata Diack, son of disgraced former international athletics chief Lamine Diack.

Japanese bidding officials said the payments were legitimate consultants’ fees that had been checked by auditors.

Japanese opposition lawmakers raised the issue in parliament, with questions centering on a Singaporean company called Black Tidings to whose account the Guardian said the payment was made.

The Singapore account where the money was allegedly deposited was controlled by Ian Tan Tong Han, a friend of the younger Diack, said the Guardian.

The firm’s business address is in a government housing complex in a suburban part of Singapore, and a Reuters cameraman saw shoes and umbrellas in front of the address yesterday morning, but the company has no registered phone number.

“You have indicated that this company has a business record and we absolutely believe that this is not a paper company,” former bidding committee president and Japan Olympic Committee president Tsunekazu Takeda told a parliamentary committee. “Consultants in this industry often are individual business people who, because they are traveling around the world, often use their homes as a business address.”

Mr Takeda, a vice president of the Tokyo 2020 Games organisation and an International Olympic Committee (IOC) member, said in a statement on Friday the payments mentioned in the media were for services received from Tan’s company, a fee that was fully audited by Ernst & Young ShinNihon LLC.

Japan’s education and sports minister Hiroshi Hase told parliament the consulting company had been needed to gather information and for Tokyo’s bidding strategy.

“However, we have been informed that the Tokyo bidding committee could not have been aware of the connection of the company with Lamine Diack,” he said.

Diack is under a French police investigation for corruption at the IAAF, athletics’ governing body.

The IOC has said it has been in touch with French magistrates.

A spokesman at Singapore’s Corrupt Practices Investigation Bureau said it was working with French authorities on the case but declined further comment, citing the investigation.


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