20th July 2017

IOC Ethics Board investigating Al Musallam corruption claims

The Ethics Board of the International Olympics Committee (IOC) is investigating a report from The Times, Der Spiegel and SwimVortex, which alleges that Director General of the Olympic Council of Asia (OCA), Husain Al Musallam, attempted to negotiate a 10% cut of prospective sponsorship deals. The allegations centre around a recorded conversation, published by Jens Weinreich, that took place in a meeting between Al Musallam and a Chinese marketing agent, where he suggests that 10% of any sponsorship deals should be channelled to him as ‘commission’.

The OCA has denied that any corruption took place. In a statement provided to The Times, it said that it was ‘aware of the tape in question and its content, and believes that this tape is being used in a politically-motivated campaign ahead of the FINA elections’.

Al Musallam is also the sole candidate for re-election as First Vice President at the international swimming federation (FINA) Congress, which takes place in Budapest on 22 July ahead of the World Championships. FINA told The Times that it was not aware of any breach of its regulations, but would continue to monitor the situation.

It is not the first time that Al Mussalam’s name has been mentioned in connection to alleged corruption. It is understood that Al Musallam is ‘Co-conspirator #3’, described in the US Department of Justice (DoJ) charge sheet (PDF below) against Richard K. Lai as ‘a high raking official of the OCA and an official of the KFA [Kuwait Football Association]’.

The charge sheet alleges that ‘Co-conspirator #3’ arranged a meeting between Lai and Sheikh Ahmad Al-Fahad Al-Sabah to discuss Mohammed bin Hammam’s leadership of the Asian Football Confederation (AFC), as well as arranging the transfer of funds to Lai’s personal account, which was dressed as covering the hire of the manager for the Guam national team. Sheikh Ahmad is President of the OCA – in effect, he is Al Musallam’s boss.

Sheikh Ahmad has already been forced to resign his roles in football after being identified through the Richard Lai charge sheet. The document alleges that Sheikh Ahmad and Al Mussalam arranged to bribe Lai in order to gain control over the AFC and influence FIFA. Lai, a member of FIFA’s Audit & Compliance Committee, was provisionally suspended by FIFA after pleading guilty to the charges.

Al Musallam is also a member of the IOC’s Olympic Solidarity Commission, which provides financial assistance to national Olympic Committees (NOCs) for development projects. As such, he has been involved in OCA Olympasia development projects. Earlier this month, it was alleged that Olympasia Project funds were being misappropriated. There is no suggestion that he has been involved in this, but the OCA has yet to respond to these allegations, despite evidence of the alleged fraud being sent to Sheikh Ahmad directly.

UPDATE 31/7/2017: In a statement provided to InsideTheGames, Al Musallam denied that there was any corruption involved in the recorded conversation, which he alleged was leaked to the media in an attempt to destabilise his FINA election campaign. “I was fully aware that the meeting was being recorded”, he told the internet site, adding that the proposed sponsorship deal never materialised. “The OCA proposal that I made was as follows: 82 per cent of the Asian Games Rights Fees would go to the Asian Games; 10 per cent of the Rights Fee would go directly to the OCA (hence to ‘us’); the remaining eight percent of the Rights Fee would be paid as commission to the agency. As the tape would testify, I did not personally request any commission for me at any stage nor did I receive any commission […] The allegations were deliberately timed to try and damage my reputation and that of the FINA family which I serve.”

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