HAWKS drop FIFA PROBE

The aban­don­ment of the in­quiry by the lo­cal crime-fight­ing unit into the $10m bribe al­le­ga­tion will raise eye­brows

CityPress - - Front Page - ABRAM MASHEGO abram.mashego@city­press.co.za

The Hawks have called a halt to their pre­lim­i­nary probe into the Fifa bribery scan­dal and will no longer be in­ves­ti­gat­ing al­le­ga­tions that South Africa paid a bribe of $10 mil­lion (R124 mil­lion at the cur­rent ex­change rate) to bag the 2010 World Cup.

The rea­son they have de­cided to drop the in­quiry will be an­nounced this week, said se­nior Hawks sources.

The charge was ini­tially laid by Free­dom Front Plus MP An­ton Al­berts, who asked them to in­ves­ti­gate al­le­ga­tions that Safa chief pres­i­dent and newly ap­pointed Nel­son Man­dela Bay mayor Danny Jor­daan had ap­proved the pay­ment to the Con­fed­er­a­tion of North, Cen­tral Amer­i­can and Caribbean As­so­ci­a­tion Foot­ball (Con­ca­caf ).

Hawks spokesper­son Bri­gadier Hang­wani Mu­laudzi was quoted as say­ing two weeks ago that the Hawks had launched a pre­lim­i­nary in­ves­ti­ga­tion.

But now Hawks se­nior of­fi­cers have told City Press their in­quiry had not un­cov­ered any in­for­ma­tion and in­ves­ti­ga­tors had not in­ter­viewed any of­fi­cials who were “per­sons of in­ter­est” in the scan­dal that has rocked world foot­ball.

Mu­laudzi ad­mit­ted they had nei­ther in­ter­viewed nor ques­tioned any of the peo­ple in­volved in the al­leged pay­ment of the bribe to for­mer Con­ca­caf pres­i­dent Jack Warner.

The Hawks are halt­ing their pre­lim­i­nary in­ves­ti­ga­tion into the Fifa bribery scan­dal – specif­i­cally into al­le­ga­tions that South Africa paid a $10 mil­lion bribe to se­cure the rights to host the 2010 soc­cer World Cup. Highly placed sources within the elite unit have told City Press the de­ci­sion to drop the in­quiry will be an­nounced this week.

Aban­don­ing the probe will raise eye­brows given that the Hawks bizarrely opted for an in­quiry in­stead of a full in­ves­ti­ga­tion when first ap­proached to look into the al­le­ga­tions.

Free­dom Front Plus MP An­ton Al­berts had asked that the Hawks ex­am­ine al­le­ga­tions that Safa chief and newly ap­pointed Nel­son Man­dela Bay metro mayor Danny Jor­daan had sanc­tioned the pay­ment of $10 mil­lion to the Con­fed­er­a­tion of North, Cen­tral Amer­i­can and Caribbean As­so­ci­a­tion Foot­ball (Con­ca­caf ).

A sub­se­quent let­ter writ­ten by for­mer Safa boss Molefi Oliphant specif­i­cally in­di­cated that the money be man­aged by for­mer Fifa vice-pres­i­dent Jack Warner, who is now the sub­ject of an in­ves­ti­ga­tion by the FBI in the US.

Hawks spokesper­son Bri­gadier Hang­wani Mu­laudzi was quoted two weeks ago as say­ing the Hawks had launched a pre­lim­i­nary in­ves­ti­ga­tion.

But now Hawks in­sid­ers who spoke to City Press said the in­quiry had not un­cov­ered any in­for­ma­tion and in­ves­ti­ga­tors had not in­ter­viewed any of­fi­cials who were “per­sons of in­ter­est” in the scan­dal that has rocked world foot­ball.

“All they have are news­pa­per clip­pings ob­tained from news web­site IOL.co.za and News24.com, which were sub­mit­ted by po­lit­i­cal party Free­dom Front Plus in their re­quest for an in­ves­ti­ga­tion,” said a highly placed source.

Mu­laudzi this week said a case had ac­tu­ally not been opened, which was why they had launched an in­quiry rather than a full in­ves­ti­ga­tion.

“We launched an in­quiry and will make an an­nounce­ment when the time is right to do so,” he said.

Mu­laudzi ad­mit­ted they had not in­ter­viewed nor ques­tioned any of those in­volved in the al­leged pay­ment of the bribe to Warner.

On Thurs­day, the DA an­nounced that it would sub­mit an ap­pli­ca­tion for ac­cess to in­for­ma­tion held by Safa and the depart­ment of sport and recre­ation.

The ap­pli­ca­tion seeks to com­pel Safa and the depart­ment to re­lease all doc­u­ments re­lat­ing to the de­ci­sion to pay $10 mil­lion to Warner.

Fifa and the South African gov­ern­ment have in­sisted that the pay­ment to Con­ca­caf was not a bribe but rather a grant to­wards the di­as­pora devel­op­ment pro­gramme.

But in­di­ca­tions from the is­land na­tion of Trinidad and Tobago are that the di­as­pora devel­op­ment pro­gramme does not ex­ist, and Warner used a large chunk of the money for his per­sonal ben­e­fit.

A BBC in­ves­ti­ga­tion re­vealed that three pay­ments made be­tween Jan­uary and March 2008 to­talling $10 mil­lion were wired from a Fifa ac­count in Switzer­land to ac­counts Warner con­trolled. He al­legedly used large chunks of the money to set­tle a per­sonal loan. He is also al­leged to have used some of the money to pay off his credit cards.

Among the doc­u­ments the DA is seek­ing ac­cess to are:

All cor­re­spon­dence be­tween Con­ca­caf, Safa, the 2010 bid and lo­cal or­gan­is­ing com­mit­tees and South African gov­ern­ment of­fi­cials to do with the de­ci­sion to au­tho­rise the pay­ment of $10 mil­lion to Con­ca­caf be­tween 2004 and 2011;

All doc­u­mented com­mu­ni­ca­tion be­tween Safa and Trea­sury to do with the pay­ment;

All doc­u­men­ta­tion be­tween the pres­i­dency, Safa, lo­cal or­gan­is­ing com­mit­tees and the depart­ment of sport and recre­ation to do with the de­ci­sion to pay the money to Con­ca­caf; and

All bud­getary doc­u­ments per­tain­ing to South Africa’s bid and fi­nances for the 2010 World Cup be­tween 2004 and 2011.

A Hawks source said the crime-fight­ing unit had en­coun­tered a lack of co­op­er­a­tion from the FBI re­gard­ing the probe de­spite a mem­o­ran­dum of un­der­stand­ing be­ing in place.

“We have worked with the FBI in the past, but in this case they did not in­volve us in their in­ves­ti­ga­tion. We don’t know why,” added a se­nior source.

PHOTO: BACK­PAGEPIX

Jack Warner

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