He is at the heart of the suspicions of corruption against a background of Russian doping and embezzlement of millions of euros from the sponsors, but he has always escaped French justice: Papa Massata Diack, the son of the former boss ousted from athletics Lamine Diack, again shone by his absence Monday at the trial of this sprawling affair in Paris.
“Mmmhhhh?”, “Sorry?”, “I don’t understand”, “I don’t know”: the former president of the international athletics federation (IAAF, 1999-2015), Lamine Diack, opposed answers often confused and fragmented on the sponsorship side of the case, discussed on Monday. Until one of his lawyers, Me William Bourdon, made him say that his fourth mandate at the head of the IAAF had been “that of too many” and that he should have been more vigilant: “incontestably” , murmured the 87-year-old man, white hair, sky-blue boubou and glasses tied on his head by a thick black elastic band.
As for Papa Massata Diack, who stayed in Dakar, we had to be satisfied with his responses to a Senegalese judge in November 2019, in the media or before the ethics commission of the International Athletics Federation (IAAF), including he headed the marketing branch.
– “Exorbitant” commissions –
Father and son are on trial for delaying disciplinary sanctions from Russian doping suspects from late 2011. Their goal: to get a helping hand from the authorities in Moscow in the renewal of sponsorship and broadcasting contracts with the Russian state bank VTB and the TV channel RTR, as well as funds to finance political campaigns in Senegal.
But Lamine Diack also appears for breach of trust, suspected of having allowed his son, prosecuted for concealment, to appropriate several million euros in the negotiations with the sponsors, the Russian bank VTB, the Korean Samsung or the chain Chinese CCTV. Either by taxing his companies as intermediaries, or by taking “exorbitant” commissions, around 20%, when he was already paid 900 dollars, then 1,200 per day of work as a marketing consultant at the IAAF.
At the hearing, in his absence, the words of Papa Massata Diack are taken from an interview with L’Equipe, in 2016: he prides himself on having brought to the IAAF the sum of 678 million dollars on a global envelope of 925 million marketing rights (nearly 820 million EUR).
– “Caps” –
The commissions are just as dizzying. At the helm, Lamine Diack was surprised to learn that VTB had paid 29 million euros to sponsor the IAAF from 2007 to 2011, but that its federation only received 19. The remaining 10 million have landed on the account of a company known as “PMD”. The father even claims that he was unaware that the marketing rights of the IAAF were ceded to the Japanese advertising giant Dentsu, in turn responsible for marketing them to brands, which allowed the companies of the son to intervene as an intermediary.
“Didn’t you have a problem with your son intervening with two caps, being paid by the IAAF and receiving sponsorship money?” Asked the president of the court, Rose-Marie Hunault. “I thought he could sell,” said Lamine Diack.
Then it is the turn of the financial prosecutor, François-Xavier Dulin, to list the transfers of the son to the father’s account, between 2011 and 2015. In total, Lamine Diack received around 600,000 euros in his bank accounts, from Papa Massata and even his companies.
“Why?” Asks the prosecutor. Lamine Diack has no specific memory of it.
Staying in Dakar, “PMD” benefited from the fact that Senegal, like many countries, does not extradite its nationals. But the man is sufficiently well introduced to have been granted a diplomatic passport in 2014, noted the examining magistrates, who deplored the “total lack of cooperation” of Senegal. The file is sensitive in this country, Lamine Diack having admitted during the investigation to have asked the Russians to finance the opposition against the outgoing president of the time Abdoulaye Wade, finally beaten in 2012 by Macky Sall, who started in 2019 his second consecutive term as president.
The trial, which involves six people, ends on Thursday.