x Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 25 July 2017

Investigators brought in to probe Mohamed bin Hammam corruption allegations

A former FBI director will assist in the investigation into claims of corruption which led to the suspension of Asian Football Confederation president Mohamed bin Hammam last month.

A former director of the FBI has been brought in to assist the corruption investigation into suspended Asian Football Confederation president Mohamed bin Hammam.

Investigation firm Freeh Group International, founded by former FBI director Louis Freeh, has been appointed to probe allegations he misused AFC funds, along with making payments to football officials in Asia, Africa and the Caribbean.

The allegations were uncovered in an internal audit that resulted in the AFC giving bin Hammam a 30-day provisional ban last month - just days before the Court of Abritration threw out a lifetime ban imposed by FIFA on Bin Hammam for an unrelated bribery case.

AFC acting president Zhang Jilong called on the 46 federations to cooperate with the probe into the 63-year-old Qatari.

"We would like to point out that it is crucial that the Freeh Group receive unconditional and unreserved support and cooperation by all AFC officials, bodies, and Member Associations," Jilong said

"The proceedings presently relevant are not about incriminating or discrediting certain persons but aim at establishing the truth and, on a broader scale, at safeguarding the integrity and interests of football under the AFC's jurisdiction."

The audit, prepared by accountants PricewaterhouseCoopers, alleges he received millions of dollars from individuals linked to AFC contracts during his tenure that dates back to 2002. Bin Hammam is accused of spending $700,000 from AFC coffers on himself and his family, including $100,000 for his wife, $10,000 on a Bvlgari watch for himself and nearly $5,000 for his daughter's cosmetic dentistry.

Payments are alleged to have been made to Asian, African and Caribbean football officials, including $250,000 to Jack Warner, the former longtime head of Caribbean football.

The audit found that a contract for commercial rights with World Sports Group and its subsidiary World Sports Football were no-bid contracts that were "considerably undervalued." Bin Hammam is also accused of approving several lucrative, no-bid contracts for commercial rights, including one for Qatari-owned Al-Jazeera Satellite Network.

The audit said its review of the AFC accounts found that tens of thousands of dollars in cash were routinely given to federation presidents and their relatives. Most of it went into their personal bank accounts and none of it was for football-related expenses, it said.

Bin Hammam has not spoken about the latest allegations, but his lawyer said they are a FIFA tactic to block his return to world football.