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Saturday, April 25, 2015

Malay Mail: Explosive ‘tamper or hide’ AFC probe video surfaces / Soosay: Where’s this coming from, why now?

Explosive ‘tamper or hide’ AFC probe video surfaces

By Haresh Deol 

KUALA LUMPUR — The general secretary of the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) allegedly attempted to "tamper or hide" documents during the 2012 internal audit that was triggered by claims of corrupt practices by then president Mohammad Hammam, reveals evidence obtained by Malay Mail.

A video recording of a Fifa investigation, obtained by Malay Mail this week, sheds new light on the episode and implicates Datuk Alex Soosay in an alleged cover-up.

Soosay vehemently denied the contents of the video, saying it was an attempt to smear him. The former Negri Sembilan footballer is in Bahrain for a series of meetings ahead of the AFC elections on April 30 (see accompanying story).

The explosive disclosures surfaced in the video recorded on July 26, 2012 in an interview with AFC financial director Bryan Kuan Wee Hoong by Fifa investigator Michael John Pride.

Kuan said Soosay had, during a meeting in his office three days earlier, spoken about the PriceWaterhouse Coopers (PwC) audit before allegedly requesting him to tamper or hide documents which could incriminate him.

He claimed Soosay said "protect me" before asking "can you tamper or hide any documents that relate to me?"

"He started by saying how are things going ... and then said things are under control. He explained the next steps by AFC and Fifa. He suddenly said 'protect me' and I was surprised," Kuan said in the video.

"He said based on (what) they (PwC) have found out, have 'I committed any crime and will they blame me for anything? Anything that you have … is it possible to either tamper or hide it somewhere?'

"As far as I understand (Soosay was talking about) things he had signed ... about the premium voucher, the instruction to initiate payment mainly possibly for cash advances taken by Hammam.

"I said let them investigate. I think everybody understood the situation he was in. When Hammam was in AFC, everybody knew if he asked you to do something, you had to do it." 
Kuan said he had received a similar request in the past.

"When it was confirmed PwC was going to do the investigation, I had a separate conversation with him (Soosay) and he told me clearly anything related to him, don't give to them (PwC)," Kuan said in the video.

Kuan said he was unable to tamper or hide documents as it would be wrong and would worsen the situation if documents went missing. Soosay apparently "took a short breath" and said "I should have tampered or not provided the documents before PwC conducted this audit".

Asked why Soosay would want the documents tampered with or hidden, Kuan said: "I'm not sure ... possibly because he is afraid he may be accountable for signing the payment instructions and that he didn't question it."

"If suddenly it (documents) goes missing, then everybody's integrity will be questioned," Kuan said, adding it was "quite impossible" for anyone to tamper or hide documents from his office.

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.

Asked at the end of the recording if he was pressured to make the statement, Kuan said "no".

Kuan, however, refused to speak about the video when contacted on Wednesday. 

"I do not wish to speak about this," he told Malay Mail before hanging up.

Another former AFC staff member, James Johnson, who left for Fifa, was apparently present during the video recording.

It is learnt the video was never submitted to Fifa. In an email reply to Malay Mail, Fifa said: "We kindly suggest you to direct your enquiry to AFC."

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).

Its deputy director (operations and intelligence) Datuk Abdul Jalil Hassan said the case was classified as NFA (no further action). He declined to elaborate.

Former AFC financial director Amelia Gan and her husband Tony Kong Lee Toong were implicated in the theft of missing documents at AFC House. 

Kong claimed trial to a theft charge on Sept 19, 2012. On Nov 9, 2012, Kong's lawyer Kamarul Hisham Kamaruddin said prosecutors decided to drop the charge but he did not give any reasons.

Soosay: Where’s this coming from, why now?

KUALA LUMPUR — AFC general secretary Datuk Alex Soosay refuted allegations he had instructed any party to "tamper or hide documents" linked to him during the internal audit by PwC in 2012.

Soosay stressed investigations had been wrapped up and he was never hauled up by any party including Fifa to provide statements regarding the episode.

"Where is this coming from and why now?" Soosay asked, when told about the July 26, 2012 video recording between AFC financial director Bryan Kuan Wee Hoong and Fifa investigator Michael John Pride.

"If there was something, wouldn't they have investigated me? This is just a smear (campaign) against me. There is no such thing."

Soosay was in Dubai on Wednesday, awaiting his flight to Bahrain where he will attend a series of meetings ahead of the AFC elections on April 30. 

He added: "It is a non-issue. There is no evidence of any wrongdoing."

Asked if he had been under duress during Hammam's tenure as president, Soosay said: "Yes".

He said he had no issues with Kuan whose disclosures to Fifa alleged Soosay had asked him to tamper or hide crucial documents. 

"I appointed Kuan after we sacked Amelia Gan (former AFC financial director)."
Gan, and her husband Tony Kong Lee Toong, were implicated in the theft of missing documents at AFC House in Bukit Jalil on July 31, 2012.  

"This whole thing is being taken out of context. It is only to smear me. There were no cash advancements ... everything (was) documented.

"PwC has given their report, Fifa has investigated. Everything is settled and the case closed. There is no such thing," he added.

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