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US$40,000 in envelopes, alleged bribes for 2011 Fifa vote

Thursday, May 28, 2015 - 06:39
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US court papers alleged on Wednesday that soccer executives were handed US$40,000 cash bribes stuffed into envelopes at an upmarket Caribbean hotel ahead of the 2011 FIFA presidential election.

[NEW YORK] US court papers alleged on Wednesday that soccer executives were handed US$40,000 cash bribes stuffed into envelopes at an upmarket Caribbean hotel ahead of the 2011 Fifa presidential election.

The payments were allegedly arranged by a high-ranking official at Fifa and the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) who was a candidate in the election but who was not named in the US indictment.

Mohamed Bin Hammam, then head of the Asian Football Confederation, was suspended by Fifa in May 2011 when evidence first emerged that the bribes had been paid to support his candidacy.

Former Fifa vice-president Jack Warner also resigned in 2011 after the scandal emerged. At the time Fifa said it had dropped investigations and that "the presumption of innocence is maintained." Warner, 72, from Trinidad and Tobago, is named throughout the US indictment. He has maintained his innocence on Facebook.

According to court papers, US$363,537.98 was wired from an account controlled by the AFC official to an account controlled by Warner in Trinidad and Tobago, through New York in late April.

The AFC official subsequently met Caribbean Football Union (CFU) members at the Hyatt Regency Hotel in Trinidad and Tobago on May 10, 2011 - just weeks before the scheduled election.

The AFC official addressed the meeting on his candidacy and Warner afterward told delegates "they could pick up a 'gift' that afternoon at a conference room in the hotel," the indictment claimed.

They were allegedly instructed to enter the room one at a time, where each was handed an envelope containing US$40,000 in US currency by CFU staff.

The following day, Warner allegedly said the money had come from the AFC official but expressed anger that a representative had informed CONCACAF in New York of the payments.

"There are some people here who think they are more pious than thou. If you're pious, open a church, friends. Our business is our business," the indictment quoted Warner as saying.

"The purpose of the US$40,000 payments was to induce officials of the CFU member associations... to vote for co-conspirator number seven in the June 1, 2011 Fifa presidential election," it said.

In July, after the scheme was uncovered and Warner had resigned, the co-conspirator wired US$1.2 million from an account in Qatar for credit to an account in Warner's name, the indictment said.

AFP