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Japan’s top 3 advertising agencies implicated in Olympic bid-rigging scandal

Tokyo Olympics

Tokyo, Japan | Xinhua | Tokyo prosecutors and Japan’s Fair Trade Commission on Monday raided the headquarters of major advertising firm Hakuhodo Inc. over suspected bid-rigging connected to the Tokyo Olympic Games held last year.

The search of Japan’s second-largest advertising firm follows that of the country’s biggest firm Dentsu Inc. being raided on Friday.

Along with another advertising agency ADK Holdings Inc. admitting its culpability in the widening scandal, all of Japan’s top-three advertising firms are now implicated in the bid-rigging scandal for the rights to arrange test events for last year’s Tokyo Olympics and Paralympics.

Tokyu Agency Inc. and Tokyo-based event production companies Same Two Inc. and Fuji Creative Corp., were also raided on Monday, the prosecutors said.

They suspect the awarding of contracts in open bids held for the rights to arrange 26 test events to advertising agencies implicated in the scandal, nine companies and a consortium, were rigged.

Informed sources have said the total value of the contracts is worth more than 500 million yen (3.6 million U.S. dollars).

A spokesperson for Hakuhodo, who won two bids worth around 40 million yen (290,000 dollars), said the firm will “fully cooperate with investigations.”

Along with advertising giant Dentsu, on Friday, the residence of a senior official at the Tokyo Olympics organizing committee was also searched, and Cerespo Co., an event production company, has also been implicated.

The raids are the latest in a string of bribery scandals connected to the Games, with the latest searches by authorities conducted on suspicion of unfair restraint of trade.

The continued allegations of bribery connected to one of the world’s largest sporting events have tarnished the image of the suspected firms here, along with former games executive organizing committee members in Tokyo also alleged to have received bribes.

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