KEIR RADNEDGE in LONDON: FIFA is trying to nail Mohamed Bin Hammam again, having failed the first time with last year’s life ban which was subsequently overturned by the Court of Arbitration for Sport.
This time around the world football federation wants to chase down the 63-year-old Qatari over revelations in an audit of Asian confederation accounts. Carried out by PricewaterhouseCoopers, the report claimed that Bin Hammam, while AFC president, has favoured family and friends with its funds.
The audit was published – with remarked-upon timing – just before CAS cleared Bin Hammam of the bribery allegations which had prompted his life ban last summer by the FIFA Ethics Committee.
Subsequently the AFC suspended Bin Hammam for 30 days and has the option of extending the ban for a further 21 days. In the meantime the AFC has appointed Louis Freeh, former director of the FBI, to delve deeper into the PwC audit.
FIFA, reacting to original AFC ban, suspended Bin Hammam for 90 days while new investigatory chairman Mike Garcia considered how to react to both the CAS verdict and the PwC audit.
Today he decided, in the terms of a formal statement, to open “investigation proceedings . . . These proceedings follow the provisional banning of Bin Hammam for 90 days as established by the Ethics Committee on 26 July 2012 after a preliminary investigation of the case.”
Bin Hammam had indicated, after the CAS clearance, that he was ready to walk away from football. FIFA and the AFC, however, have given him little option but to battle on.
FIFA might like to think that Bin Hammam remains persona non grata within the football world but this is not the case. He retains a level of support within the Asian game in general and in Qatar in particular.
Only last week he was a significant presence at a reception at the Diplomatic Club in Doha also attended by the QFA president, Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa bin Ahmed Al Thani, other board members as well as officials past and present.
Bin Hammam’s Washington-based lawyer, Eugene Gulland, has described FIFA’s original case against the Qatari as “flawed by shocking violations of due process” and the PwC audit as “outrageous” and “preposterous” and “politically motivated.”
** The new FIFA Audit and Compliance Committee has held its first meeting under the chairmanship of Domenico Scala at FIFA headquarters in Zurich. The creation of this committee and Scala’s appointment were approved by Congress in Budapest in May.
After the meeting, Scala said: “I am very pleased that we have started to work today in this committee, which has an important role as an independent monitoring and oversight body.
“The aim is to ensure the accuracy of the control mechanisms related to financial reporting, audits and internal controls, as well as compliance, something which will in turn enhance the integrity of the organisation.
“In particular, the various proposals established during the reform process to enhance governance and compliance are now being implemented through this committee, including for example increased transparency and control of the various development programmes.”
The new committee has an increased scope of responsibility compared to the former Audit Committee.
The main duty of the Audit and Compliance Committee is to ensure the completeness and reliability of the financial accounting as well as reviewing the financial statements, the consolidated financial statement and the external auditors’ report as a matter of course and no longer only at the request of the FIFA Executive Committee.
The committee is also responsible for conducting integrity checks on candidates for the offices of chairmen, deputy chairmen or members of both chambers of the Ethics Committee.
The chairman, deputy chairman and members of the Audit and Compliance Committee will be elected for the first time at the 2013 FIFA Congress.
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