28 April 2017

FIFA Audit & Compliance Committee member admits accepting $950k in bribes

The international federation of football associations (FIFA) has been forced to provisionally suspend Richard K. Lai, a member of its Audit and Compliance Committee, after he admitted accepting US$950,000 in bribes in a US court hearing. Lai is President of the Guam Football Association and is understood to have been recently removed as a member of the Asian Football Confederation’s (AFC) Marketing Committee.

Lai is a member of the FIFA Audit and Compliance Committee

He pleaded guilty to accepting $100,000 in bribes in 2011, when he was appointed as a member of the AFC Executive Committee. The US Department of Justice (DoJ) said the bribes were from ‘an official who was then running for the FIFA Presidency’ in exchange for his vote. The AFC official running for the FIFA Presidency at that time was AFC President Mohamed bin Hammam, whom FIFA banned for life following his resignation.

Lai also pleaded guilty to receiving over $850,000 in bribes between 2009 and 2014 from ‘a faction of soccer officials in the AFC region’ in return for ‘using his influence as a soccer official to advance the interests of the faction that bribed him’, which included identifying other officials in the AFC who may accept a bribe, said the DoJ. ‘The goal of this scheme was for the faction to gain control of the AFC and influence FIFA’.

FIFA has provisionally banned Lai for 90 days. ‘The duration of the ban may be extended for an additional period not exceeding 45 days’, read a FIFA statement. Lai’s provisional suspension will therefore expire on 27 July, unless it is extended, in which case it will expire on 10 September. Although FIFA cannot comment further due to the confidentiality provisions within Article 36 of the FIFA Code of Ethics, it is understood that it is investigating breaches of its Code of Ethics and will take a future decision on whether to issue Lai with a full ban.

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