Olympics Fresh investigations into vote buying

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The Independent Online

Fresh investigations into vote buying

Two fresh investigations into allegations of bribery to secure the 2002 Winter Olympics for Salt Lake City were under way this weekend. The Salt Lake Organising Committee has appointed an ethics panel to report on the city's efforts to cozy up to key International Olympic Committee (IOC) members - including providing college scholarships to some of their children. The FBI have also started a preliminary investigation. The IOC earlier launched their own inquiry into vote buying. Among those likely to be questioned is Tom Welch, who ran the Salt Lake City bid. Yesterday he said of the scholarship programme that benefited six children of IOC members: "This isn't the Olympic competition. It's the business side of it." This, he said, involves giving IOC members gifts and "letting them know who their friends are". At the centre of the allegations, for Salt Lake and other cities, too, are the role of vote-broker agents. One, Mahmoud El- Farnawani, said on Friday that in 1995 that he "assured" the IOC's Arab vote for Salt Lake in return for $58,000 (pounds 35,000). "I signed a contract with Salt Lake City and assured them of all the Arab votes," he added.