KUALA LUMPUR: In a move which has taken the Asian football  mainstream by surprise, prosecutors in Malaysia prosecutors have dropped a theft charge against a man accused of stealing documents linked to the Mohamed Bin Hammam case writes KEIR RADNEDGE.

Kamarul Hisham Kamaruddin, a lawyer acting for the husband of the AFC’s former finance director, issued the latest twist in the tale.

Kong Lee Toong, 35-year-old husband of the ex-AFC officer Amelia Gan, had already pleaded not guilty to the charge in a court in the Malaysian capital back in September.

Kamaruddin said: “I am happy the prosecutors gave the charge a thorough consideration and decided to withdraw the case.” He said he had received formal written notice of the decision.

The theft charge had arisen shortly after Bin Hammam, Qatari former president of the AFC, had been made subject of a provisional suspension by both the AFC and world federation FIFA over allegations of misuse of confederation funds.

The AFC had lodged a complaint with police over missing documents reportedly relating to Bin Hammam while he made an informal complaint of his own that documents detailing “personal payments” had been  stolen from his office.

Bin Hammam, who had a life ban scrapped in August by the Court of Arbitration for Sport, claimed that information from the stolen documents had featured in an internal AFC audit of his activities as president, carried out by PricewaterhouseCoopers.

Kee Wei Lon, deputy public prosecutor in the Malaysian attorney-general’s office, had previously said that the alleged theft involved “a financial document from AFC House” and occurred on July 31.

The AFC had said its internal audit looked into the handling of certain contracts and financial transactions involving AFC bank accounts and bin Hammam’s personal account during his tenure.

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

In September Bin Hammam met investigators in London in September and offered a detailed explanation of the payments.

He remains under suspension by FIFA while it considers issues arising from both the CAS decision and the PwC audit.

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