By Haresh Deol
KUALA LUMPUR — A former Asian Football Confederation (AFC) stalwart has questioned why the “tamper or hide” allegations by a senior AFC official during an internal audit in 2012 were not highlighted and investigated.
Datuk Peter Velappan, who served as AFC general secretary from 1977 to 2007, said the allegations by AFC financial director Bryan Kuan Wee Hoong were “shocking” and had “serious implications on the integrity” of the regional body.
A video interview by Fifa investigator Michael John Pride which was obtained by Malay Mail last week, had Kuan claiming AFC general secretary Datuk Alex Soosay told him “protect me” before asking “can you tamper or hide documents that relate to me?”
The video was recorded on July 26, 2012. Kuan met Soosay three days earlier at the latter’s office at AFC House in Bukit Jalil.
Soosay vehemently denied the contents of the video when contacted by Malay Mail on Wednesday, saying it was an attempt to smear him. The former Negri Sembilan footballer is in Bahrain for meetings ahead of the AFC elections on April 30.
“Why didn’t the party concerned raise this matter with the (AFC) president?” asked Velappan.
He said Kuan and Pride were duty bound to report the matter to the relevant parties.
“It will then be up to Fifa and AFC to investigate the allegations. For a financial director to make such claims is shocking and serious.” Velappan, 80, said there were processes to address such matters.
“If the matter had been highlighted to the AFC president, he would have instructed the executive committee to look into the matter. The committee would then be able to instruct the ethics committee to conduct an inquiry.
“It is clear no one knew about the video up until now,” he said.
Velappan stressed AFC had an obligation to inform its stakeholders about the findings of any inquiry or investigation, including the 2012 internal audit by PriceWaterhouse Coopers (PwC).
“I hear the word ‘case closed’ often but what were the grounds and how did the authorities, including AFC, come to that decision? AFC represents football in Asia. The national FAs, officials, fans and the media need to know. “Recommendations were made by PwC. Have they been followed through? There must be an internal investigation and those accountable should be made known along with what action, if any, has been taken,” he said.
It is learnt the video was never submitted to Fifa. In an email reply to Malay Mail last week, Fifa said: “We kindly suggest you to direct your enquiry to AFC.”
Veteran journalist James Dorsey, an authority in world football, had quoted sources in his blog mideastsoccer.blogspot.com as saying: “The statements (by Kuan) were made, the sources said, in case questions (regarding) Soosay’s alleged request for the documents were posed.
“In his written declaration, Kuan said that ‘this statement made accurately by me sets out the evidence that I would be prepared, if necessary, to provide to a football governing body and court as a witness.’ “The sources said Kuan had discussed Soosay’s July 23 request with (former AFC staff) James Johnson who, according to the video, was present during the recording of Kuan’s statement by Pride.
“Kuan said he made his written and video-taped statements on the advice of Johnson,” the blog posting read.
Dorsey, who broke the story on the PwC findings, quoted an AFC executive committee member as saying: “The audit’s purpose was to deal with Hammam. It served its purpose. It’s been buried.”
The video was taped during the 2012 PwC audit initiated by AFC to address alleged corrupt practices by former AFC president Mohammad Hammam.
On July 31 the same year, AFC lodged a police report claiming documents — bank reports and statements linked to Hammam — were missing from AFC House in Bukit Jalil. The missing documents related to a US$2 million (RM7.23 million) payment in 2008 by International Sports Event, one of three World Sport Group shareholders. The other two shareholders are Lagardere Unlimited and Dentsu. Bukit Aman Commercial Crime Investigation Department confirmed Soosay had, in a police report on Aug 17, 2012, alleged Hammam had embezzled nearly US$10 million (RM36.17 million). The case was later classified as NFA (no further action).
The ‘tamper or hide’ video leak comes as AFC president Sheikh Salman Ebrahim Al Khalifa is expected to be re-elected at the AFC congress on April 30 in Bahrain. Sheikh Salman is the only candidate for the post and will automatically also become Fifa vice-president.