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Romario seeks senate probe into Rio Olympic organizer Nuzman

In this Sept. 18, 2016 file photo, Carlos Nuzman, President of the Rio 2016 Organizing Committee, speaks during the closing ceremony of the Rio 2016 Paralympic Games at the Maracana Stadium in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Brazilian Senator Romario de Souza Faria, the star of Brazil's 1994 World Cup winning team,told The Associated Press on Tuesday, Sept. 19, 2017, hopes to open a congressional investigation of Nuzman, who headed last year's Rio de Janeiro Olympics. | AP Photo/Leo Correa, File

RIO DE JANEIRO — Brazilian Senator Romario de Souza Faria, the star of Brazil's 1994 World Cup winning team, hopes to open a congressional investigation into Carlos Nuzman, who headed the local organizing committee of last year's Rio de Janeiro Olympics.

Nuzman, an honorary IOC member, was held for questioning earlier this month by Brazilian and French authorities in an alleged vote-buying scheme to land the Olympics for Brazil. He has denied any wrongdoing.

Romario's office told The Associated Press on Tuesday that the former Barcelona star wants to confirm a "preliminary committee of inquiry" by the end of the week.

Two years ago, Romario called the head of the Brazilian soccer confederation — Marco Polo del Nero — before a similar panel looking into corruption in the game in Brazil. He has called Del Nero a "cancer" on the game, although Del Nero continues to head the CBF.

The International Olympic Committee has remained largely silent about Nuzman. It has said it is awaiting word on any charges against the Brazilian, and presumes his innocence.

The 75-year-old Nuzman was detained by police two weeks ago in Rio. French and Brazilian authorities say he is a central figure in channeling $2 million to Lamine Diack through an account held by his son, Papa Massata Diack. The elder Diack is a former IOC member from Senegal who was a force in the IOC African voting bloc when Rio was picked by the IOC in 2009.

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Police said they found about $150,000 in cash in Nuzman's apartment, divided into five currencies. Three passport were also seized — one Brazilian, one Russian, and a diplomatic passport.

Nuzman's lawyers have asked that his seized assets be released.

They argue in a document sent to AP that a crime committed under French law may not be a crime in Brazil.

His lawyers called actions by French authorities against Nuzman "illegal, abusive."

"Brazil is not a French colony and it has independent laws that are different from the European country," Nuzman's defense said in public documents sent to the court in Rio de Janeiro.

Nuzman's lawyers said only his Brazilian passport was valid and the other two were not.

Nuzman said he has a Russian passport through the nationality of one of his grandparents. He rejected claims it could have been offered by Russian authorities as a favor.

He also said the $150,000 in five different currencies was needed because he travels frequently on sporting business.

Dozens of sports venues in Rio sit empty a year after the games ended. Construction on many games-related projects has been linked to a sweeping graft scandal.

Brazil officially spent $13 billion to organize the Olympics, though some put the figure at $20 billion. Organizers are reported to still owe creditors about $30 million.

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