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Context of 'May 26, 2011: FIFA Presidential Candidate Refers Rival for Ethics Investigation'

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A $40,000 bribe paid on behalf of Mohamed bin Hammam to Fred Lunn, vice president of the Bahamas FA.A $40,000 bribe paid on behalf of Mohamed bin Hammam to Fred Lunn, vice president of the Bahamas FA. [Source: FIFA] (click image to enlarge)Following an address to the Caribbean Football Union (CFU) by FIFA presidential candidate Mohamed bin Hammam, $40,000 bribes are handed out to CFU member offcials in an attempt to get them to vote for bin Hammam. The meeting is held at the Hyatt Regency hotel in Trinidad, where bin Hammam, who had paid for the officials’ travel and accommodation, presents his manifesto. Following the pitch, the officials, from 25 football associations, representing 25 votes out of 208, are asked to go into a conference room. The first to enter is Fred Lunn, vice president of the Bahamas FA. He is handed a large brown envelope and, when he opens it, according to a later affidavit, “stacks of US$100 fell out and on to the table.” Lunn is not authorized to accept such a gift, but is urged to do so by a CFU official. After accepting the money, he texts his superior, Bahamas FA president Anton Sealey. Sealey then calls him to say that “under no circumstances would the Bahamas FA accept such a cash gift.” Lunn takes a picture of the money and then returns to the conference room. There he finds a queue of officials waiting to collect their bribes, which prompts him to again text Sealey: “[A] lot of the boys taking the cash, this is sad given the breaking news on the TV CNN [about corruption charges in the 2022 World Cup bid process].… I’m truly surprised its happening at this conference.” Sealey’s reply is: “I’m disappointed but not surprised. It is important that [we] maintain our integrity when the story is told. That money will not make or break our association. You can leave with your head high.” The next morning Lunn attends a CFU meeting addressed by FIFA vice president and CONCACAF president Jack Warner. “Mr Warner stated that he had instructed Mr Bin Hammam to bring the cash equivalent of any gift he had intended to bring for the people attending this meeting,” Lunn will later say in the affidavit. “Mr Warner then stated that the money could be used for any purpose… for grass-roots programs or any purpose the individuals saw fit.” By this time Sealey has informed CONCACAF official Chuck Blazer, who will have a report prepared into the matter at the request of FFIA secretary general Jerome Valcke and then go public with the allegations (see May 24, 2011). (Press Association (London) 5/30/2011)

Chuck Blazer, an American member of FIFA’s executive committee, goes public with allegations that Mohamed bin Hammam, one of two candidates in the forthcoming election for FIFA’s presidency, gave bribes to as many as two dozen voters. Blazer alleges that Jack Warner, the president of the North American football grouping CONCACAF of which Blazer is general secretary, was involved. According to Blazer, at a meeting of the Carribean Football Union (CFU) Hammam, aided by Warner and two other CFU officials, Debbie Minguell and Jason Sylvester, offered cash to CFU members in return for voting for him (see May 10, 2011). (Press Association (London) 5/25/2011)

FIFA announces that its ethics committee will investigate two members of the organization’s executive committee, Mohamed bin Hammam and Jack Warner, as well as two Carribean Football Union officials, Debbie Minguell and Jason Sylvester. The announcement follows allegations of vote-buying made by fellow executive committee member Chuck Blazer (see May 24, 2011). The officials are to attend an ethics committee meeting in four days’ time to discuss the allegations. Bin Hammam is currently running for FIFA president, with the election scheduled to take place next week. Bin Hammam’s rival is the Swiss Sepp Blatter, so the ethics committee hearing will not be attended by its chairman, Claudio Sulser, who is also Swiss. Instead the meeting will be chaired by Petrus Damaseb, a judge from Namibia and the committee’s deputy chairman. (Press Association (London) 5/25/2011)

FIFA presidential candidate Mohamed bin Hammam refers his opponent, the incumbent Sepp Blatter, for an ethics invesigation. This follows the opening of an ethics investigation into bin Hammam, who offered bribes to 25 voters in the Caribbean (see May 10, 2011, May 24, 2011, and May 25, 2011). According to bin Hammam, the report into the matter that forms the basis of the charges against him contains “statements according to which Mr Blatter, the incumbent Fifa president, was informed of, but did not oppose, payments allegedly made to members of the Caribbean Football Union.” Reportedly, FIFA vice president Jack Warner, who is also under an ethics investigation, told Blatter of the payments. If this were true, it would be an ethics violation by Blatter, as FIFA officials are under a duty to disclose any evidence of improper conduct to the organization’s secretary general. Bin Hammam’s allegations are first made in a letter to FIFA secretary general Jerome Valcke, but are then reported in the media. (Gibson 5/26/2011) FIFA’s ethics committee will open an investigation of Blatter (see May 26, 2011).

FIFA’s ethics committee opens an investigation into the organization’s president, Sepp Blatter. The investigation was proposed by Blatter’s presidential rival in a forthcoming election, Mohamed bin Hammam (see May 26, 2011). According to bin Hammam, Blatter knew of but did not oppose bribes bin Hammam is said to have offered 25 presidential voters. Blatter did not report the bribes, although FIFA’s code of ethics apparently places a duty to report such conduct on all officials. (Wilson 5/27/2011) The ethics committee will clear Blatter of the allegations, saying the bribes had not actually been paid when he learned of them, so there was no duty to report (see May 29, 2011).

At a hearing on bribery allegations, FIFA’s ethics committee clears the organization’s president Sepp Blatter of wrongdoing, but provisionally suspends his presidential rival Mohammed bin Hammam, FIFA vice president Jack Warner, and two other officials. The allegations stemmed from a meeting in early May, when bin Hammam, aided by Warner and the other two officials, Debbie Minguell and Jason Sylvester of the Caribbean Football Union, paid voters to support bin Hammam (see May 10, 2011). The allegations were broken by FIFA executive committee member Chuck Blazer, leading to ethics referrals for the five officials (see May 25, 2011 and May 26, 2011). According to Namibian judge Petrus Damaseb, who chairs the committee meeting, Blatter is not guitly of the charges against him—that he knew of the bribes, but failed to report them—because he only knew of them in advance. Damaseb says, “The committee took the view that the obligation to report did not arise because at that stage no wrongdoing had occurred.” (ESPN 5/29/2011) The relevant section of FIFA’s ethics code states, “Officials shall report any evidence of violations of conduct to the FIFA secretary general, who shall report it to the competent body.” (FIFA 2009 pdf file) According to the ethics committee, there is therefore no duty under the code to report forthcoming violations of ethics. However, the committee decides that the other four officials have a case to answer and are provisionally suspended from all football-related activity. (ESPN 5/29/2011)

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