Malaysian police probe AFC fraud claim

Investigation opens after claims that a senior official in Asian football's governing body embezzled $10m.

    Malaysian police probe AFC fraud claim
    The latest allegations follow corruption and bribe accusations against the suspended AFC president Mohamed bin Hammam [EPA]

    Malaysian police are investigating a $10m fraud claim arising from an audit of Asia's football governing body that led to the suspension of its scandal-tainted president Mohamed bin Hammam.

    Kuala Lumpur commercial crimes investigation chief Izany Abdul Ghany said Wednesday an Asian Football Confederation (AFC) official had lodged a report against a senior colleague but declined to name the accused.

    "The report is based on the same audit but investigations are still in preliminary stages so it would be premature to say who," he told news agency AFP.

    Illegal transfer

    Izany said the report claimed that "give or take" $10m had been illegally transferred overseas from AFC accounts between February to June 2008.

    Bin Hammam, who has been provisionally replaced after nine years as AFC president, was last month suspended by the AFC following the external audit into the accounts during his time in charge.

    This followed a lifetime ban from football last year after being found guilty of bribery by a FIFA ethics committee panel during his campaign for the presidency of the sport's world governing body.

    The Qatari's ban was overturned by the Court of Arbitration for Sport on July 19 after his appeal was upheld on grounds of insufficient evidence. He is also serving a three-month ban imposed by FIFA on July 26 pending the outcome of a probe into AFC finances.

    Audit

    The audit concerned "the negotiation and execution of certain contracts and with the financial transactions made in and out of AFC bank accounts and his personal account during the tenure of Mr Bin Hammam's presidency," the AFC had said.

    It added the alleged infringements included violations of AFC statutes on ethics, corruption, conflicts of interest, bribery and accepting gifts and other benefits.

    But it gave no specifics and said it would not comment further on the case for the time being.

    Bin Hammam has denied any wrongdoing, saying cash handouts he made during the election campaign were gifts.

    The 63-year-old, who spearheaded Qatar's successful bid to win the 2022 World Cup, has described the charges and his punishment by FIFA as politically motivated.

    AFP was unable to reach AFC or bin Hammam for immediate comments.

    The bin Hammam case has spotlighted concerns over corruption in the global game and prompted calls for reform of FIFA's governance structure.

    SOURCE: AFP


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