9th April 2018

OFC appoint lawyer to investigate corruption after FIFA audit

The Oceania Football Confederation (OFC) has appointed a lawyer to lead an internal investigation, after an audit commissioned by FIFA into the OFC Home of Football prompted concerns over corruption. OFC President David Chung has resigned and the international federation of football associations (FIFA) has suspended the OFC’s funding following the audit.

‘The report resulting from an audit into the OFC Home of Football construction process conducted by an external audit firm, on behalf of FIFA, was analysed by the OFC Executive Committee’, read a statement published following an 8 April OFC Executive Committee meeting. ‘In light of the report findings, the OFC Executive Committee has appointed an external lawyer to lead an internal investigation into potential wrongdoings and to take legal action, if required. A forensic audit has been ordered to review, in detail, the processes taken in relation to the OFC Home of Football and the financial processes adopted by the OFC Administration in past years.’

Detail from the OFC’s 2014 accounts about the Home of Football project

In its 2014 accounts, the OFC reveals that the cost of the OFC Home of Football will be NZ$17.4 million (€10.3 million), and that FIFA had agreed to provide US$10 million (€8.15 million) in the form of a loan. The 2012 accounts show that repayment of this loan was originally arranged to take place over five years (2014-18) by FIFA withholding US$2 million each year from Financial Assistance Programme (FAP) payments to the OFC.

Detail from the OFC’s 2013 accounts about FIFA’s financing of the OFC Home of Football project

The OFC’s 2013 accounts reveal that the terms of the loan changed to FIFA withholding US$2.5 million over four years (2015-2018) from FAP payments to the OFC. In the 2015 accounts, which are the last published on the confederation’s internet site, the OFC mentions that the project includes a number of football pitches, changing rooms and associated facilities, as well as a new office block headquarters for the OFC.

Following the election of Gianni Infantino as FIFA President in February 2016, FIFA increased the amount that confederations would receive for football projects under the FAP from US$5.5 million per annum to US$10 million. This would mean that up until that point, the OFC was spending over half its FAP allocation on the Home of Football project.

Architect renderings of the Home of Football project are available here. Images on Google Maps, Street View and Earth from 2017 and 2018 appear to indicate that construction is ongoing, despite a 2016 scheduled completion date. The OFC’s old address is still listed on FIFA’s internet site.

‘OFC has been recently the subject of a review conducted by an external audit firm on FIFA’s behalf’, wrote a FIFA spokesperson, adding that the audit cannot be provided. ‘It has shown potential irregularities in the construction process of the OFC Home of Football. The review findings, which were not focusing on specific individuals, led to the temporary suspension of funding to OFC. The process is now ongoing and the FIFA administration will continue to support OFC in building and improving their internal controls.’

Under Article 14 of the FIFA Forward Development Programme Regulations, FIFA requires confederations to provide annual reports of how allocated funds are used. On the basis of these reports, Article 17 of the same Regulations allows it to suspend all payments to member confederations, if the FIFA General Secretariat decides that:

• the programme funds have not been used in all areas according to the approved application;
• the transactions involving programme funds have not been correctly categorised or documented; and/or
• indications of other forms of non-compliance with FIFA rules and regulations have been observed.

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