FIFA-botrány: Ausztráliában is nyomoznak
Australia’s federal police have made inquiries to the Department of Health and Sport regarding payments linked to the country’s 2022 Fifa World Cup bid, as they determine whether Australian laws against international corruption have been breached.
The department provides funding to Football Federation Australia (FFA), which made a $500,000 donation to the Confederation of North, Central America and Caribbean Association Football (Concacaf), for a stadium redevelopment during the bidding process for the tournament.
That money was allegedly pocketed by former Concacaf president, Jack Warner, who is on Interpol’s wanted persons list for charges including racketeering, conspiracy and corruption. Warner was among 14 Fifa officials and other corporate executives charged by the US justice department last week as part of a corruption investigation.
The FFA has said the $500,000 donation did not come from taxpayer money, but the Australian federal police (AFP) confirmed on Wednesday it had made inquiries to the Department of Health and Sport.
While an AFP spokesman said it was to soon to say an investigation was under way, he confirmed police were “looking into it”.
In an open letter, FFA chairman Frank Lowy said the donation to Concacaf was a “compromise,” with Australia initially asked to donate $4m to the organisation. Warner’s “reputation as a ‘colourful character’ was well known at the time, Lowy wrote.
The FFA deposited the donation directly into the Concacaf bank account and not Warner’s personal account, he said.
“When Concacaf contacted us to say they were conducting an inquiry into its accounts, we provided information about our donation,” Lowy said.
“That inquiry – conducted by two former judges and a senior accountant – found that Jack Warner had committed fraud and misappropriated the funds – in other words he had stolen the money from Concacaf … We asked Concacaf to give our money back because it wasn’t used for the purpose we intended, and were advised by Fifa to wait until the inquiries were complete.”
Those inquiries were still ongoing, Lowy said.
Police had also received letters from senator Nick Xenophon and former Australian football executive turned whistleblower, Bonita Mersiades, the spokesman said.
“The AFP will be making no further comment about this matter at this time,” the spokesman said.