Subpoenaed Memo Describes Salt Lake City's Olympic Strategy


Salt Lake City, UT, May 31, (AP by Paul Foy)–Salt Lake City Olympic officials kept a meticulous list of the personal quirks and family needs of International Olympic Committee members _ an apparent game plan for the successful 2002 Winter Olympics bid.

The so-called “geld memo” used such blunt language to describe IOC members as “Husband needs a job.” It said another IOC member’s daughter was asking for a job as a receptionist.

The Salt Lake Organizing Committee released the document on Friday as the IOC considered opening a new investigation of its members.

“Geld” _ the German word for money _ was written next to the names of eight IOC members. Four of those members were expelled or forced to resign last year for accepting cash, gifts, scholarships, and other inducements from bidders who won the 2002 Winter Games for Salt Lake.

The geld memo was maintained in a computer file by the Salt Lake City bid committee, but it is not clear which particular bid officers contributed to it. It surfaced when it was subpoenaed in the Justice Department’s grand jury investigation of the Olympic scandal.

Mitt Romney, brought in as president of the Salt Lake Organizing Committee after it was tainted by scandal, advocated releasing the 28-page memo for weeks. He held off because of the investigation, but on Thursday, the Justice Department said prosecutors wouldn’t seek an indictment against the SLOC.

Romney said in a statement Friday he “will let the document speak for itself.”

The memo’s shorthand reveals what the Salt Lake City bid committee had in mind for former Finnish IOC member Pirjo Haeggman, for instance: “Husband needs a job.”

Her former husband, Bjarne, received $35,000 from the bid committee for producing a forestry study that no one apparently read. He also worked for 20 months in an Ontario government job initiated by the Toronto committee bidding for the 1996 Summer Games. That committee also paid $650-a-month rent for a house for the family in Ontario.

Pirjo Haeggman later quit the IOC in the wake of the scandal.

“It’s all lies,” said Maj. Gen. Francis Nyangweso of Uganda, one of the eight IOC members with “geld” listed next to his name.

“It’s not embarrassing. They are the ones to be embarrassed because they spoke something they don’t know. I never got any money from any city, none.”

Nyangweso is one of two African IOC members offered a total of $70,000 for their national Olympic committee by Australian Olympic chief John Coates on the eve of Sydney’s two-vote victory over Beijing in the 1993 election for the 2000 Summer Games.

Another ousted IOC member, Agustin Arroyo, a lawyer and former Ecuador diplomat, also figured in the geld memo: “Daughter would like to come and work, needs a job being receptionist.”

The bid committee gave Arroyo’s stepdaughter, Nancy Rignault de Chezeuil, $23,000 in living expenses.

The document said Rene Essomba, Cameroon’s IOC member, loved bow ties and apparently wanted to stay in Salt Lake City for all 16 days of the Winter Games.

It was another document describing a scholarship to American University in Washington for Essomba’s daughter, Sonia, that triggered the Olympic scandal in November 1998. Rene Essomba died in August 1998.

At an IOC meeting in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, spokesman Franklin Servan-Schreiber said IOC President Juan Antonio Samaranch read the document after it was released and immediately decided to turn it over to the IOC ethics commission for review.

“We’re not sure who wrote this memo,” Servan-Schreiber said. “We don’t know if it represents actions or just ideas.”

It was not the first time that documents have surfaced about a bid committee looking into the personal preferences of IOC members.

CNN reported in 1999 that an Atlanta lawyer drew up a list of inside information about IOC members and identified those who “can be bought.” A document in the Atlanta files describess some IOC members’ tastes, noting that for one of them “gifts are OK. Gift of female OK.”

Atlanta was awarded the 1996 Summer Olympics by the IOC in 1990.

Similar documents have been attributed to bid committees from Berlin and Sydney in their attempts to win the 2000 games.

American Anita DeFrantz, an IOC vice president, said it appeared the investigation of the Salt Lake City scandal was winding down.

The son of a powerful South Korean IOC member has been indicted, and two men have pleaded guilty to tax fraud: a former U.S. Olympic Committee official and a former consultant to the Salt Lake bid committee.

Asked about the fact that nothing was written in the space next to her name in the document, DeFrantz said, “I’m glad it was blank.”

The document also details IOC members who apparently refused SLOC’s entreaties to visit Salt Lake City.

The geld memo details IOC members’ hobbies, professions, loyalties and their standing in IOC.

It quotes Samaranch as saying “one of my most trusted advisors (sic)” is Swiss lawyer Marc Hodler, former president of the International Skiing Federation. Salt Lake City officials described Hodler in the document as a “power person” in alpine skiing and an influential Salt Lake City ally.

“He believes that Salt Lake would be the first city that the IOC would not have to compromise by choosing,” the geld memo says.

Hodler would later blow the whistle on IOC corruption. He was the first IOC official to use the word “bribe” to describe the Essomba scholarship.

Copyright (c) 2000 The Associated Press