Explosive Testimony Details Improper Accounting

Explosive Testimony Details Improper Accounting

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John Daley ReportingThere was explosive testimony in the Olympic bribery trial today detailing large sums of money being sent from the Salt Lake bid committee directly to key members of the International Olympic Committee without proper accounting, and apparently often hidden in SLOC's own budget documents.

Today we got an inside look at the free spending ways of the bid committee in the days leading up to when the won the Games were won for Salt Lake. That picture shows what federal prosecutors clearly regard as bid committee campaign of bribery, aided by a distinct lack of curiosity from SLOC's own board and auditors.

Based on testimony in court today, one might rightly ask if the Games were bought rather than won. Federal prosecutors are trying to prove that's exactly what happened, and that former Olympic bid leaders Tom Welch and Dave Johnson were indisputably leading the way.

On the witness stand today was Rod Hamson, former bid committee Finance Director. Fresh out of college in the early 90s Hamson was responsible for helping prepare SLOC's budgets, handling checks and bookkeeping. Prosecutors portray Hamson as Welch's "go to guy" in the alleged bribery scheme.

Repeatedly Hamson was directed by his superiors to write checks and send out payments by wire to members of the International Olympic Committee or their relatives. Often he was told to document these payments under the category of National Olympic Committee assistance program or consultants. And he tells the jury he did so without raising objection to Welch or Johnson and without accurate documentation in the books.

On the receiving end of the bid committee largesse were IOC members like Kenyan Charles Mukora. Hamson testified that Welch asked him to send Mukora a check for 12-thousand dollars just five weeks before the vote to decide who would host the 2002 Games.

The Welch and Johnson defense team will no doubt attempt to show that many other key players here in Salt Lake knew or approved or participated in the alleged bribery scheme, and that IOC members squeezed the payments out of the bid team who agreed to go along for fear of losing that IOC member's vote.

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