Seoul - South Korean tech giant Samsung on Tuesday denied
allegations it illegally lobbied International Olympic Committee members to
vote for Pyeongchang to host the 2018 Winter Olympics over the German and
French cities of Munich and Annecy.
Corruption allegations surrounding Pyeongchang's successful
Olympic bid have seen Samsung accused of offering various incentives in return
South Korean broadcaster SBS TV said it had obtained copies
of 137 emails including messages between Samsung executives and Papa Massata
Diack - the scandal-tainted son of former International Association of
Athletics Federations (IAAF) President Lamine Diack.
According to SBS, the mails included one listing 27 IOC
members with voting rights to choose a host country and another suggesting Papa
Diack had promised to convince each one to vote for Pyeongchang.
There was also one allegedly marked "strictly
confidential" from 2010 in which Diack requested $12 million in funds -
including a three-year, $9.5 million sponsorship for the Diamond League, an
annual series of elite athletics meetings run by the IAAF.
"Samsung has never engaged in any illegal lobbying
activities to have Pyeongchang win the bidding", Samsung said in a press
statement, stressing the company's sponsorship agreement with IAAF was
The emails dated February-December 2010 were confiscated by
South Korean prosecutors several months ago during a massive graft
investigation into former South Korean president Park Geun-hye and her secret
confidante Choi Soon-sil, SBS said. Park was jailed for 24 years by a Seoul
court on Friday.
The email request also included $1.5 million for political
campaign funds for Papa Diack's father, and $1.5 million for lobbying efforts
for Pyeongchang for the six months ahead of voting in Durban to choose the
hosting country in July 2011, SBS claimed.
On top of the $12 million, Papa Diack demanded an
unspecified "success fee", the e-mail showed. Pyeongchang comfortably
won the vote to host the Games.
SBS did not publish any evidence of Samsung making payments
in response to Papa Diack's request. As an Olympic title sponsor Samsung is
prohibited from lobbying for any host city.
Samsung's chief Lee Kun-hee, an IOC member until last year,
was convicted of tax evasion in 2008. Months later then-president Lee Myung-bak
controversially pardoned him so that he could be involved in the Pyeongchang
In its statement Tuesday, Samsung said Lee had made various
efforts to help South Korea win hosting rights for the Winter Olympics, in two
unsuccessful bids for the 2010 and 2014 Games and the third successful bid for
the 2018 Games.
Samsung said it was inappropriate to frame his efforts as
behind-the-scene collusion between businesses and the government.
Papa Diack has already been handed a life ban from athletics
for corruption and accused of wrongdoing in two other Olympic bidding contests.
He is based in Senegal, where authorities have said he will not be extradited.