/ 4 June 2015

Hawks opt not to swoop on Fifa bribe allegations

Danny Jordaan arrives at the inauguration ceremony of President Jacob Zuma on May 24 2014.
According to Fuzile, Zuma also said that in other countries “finance ministers do not tell presidents that there is no money”. (Waldo Swiegers/Getty)

The Directorate for Priority Crime Investigation (the Hawks) said on Thursday that it has not opened a formal investigation regarding the allegations that South Africa paid a $10-million bribe to host the 2010 Fifa World Cup.

“The speculations that have been doing the rounds claiming that Hawks are investigating Safa [SA Football Association] president Dr Danny Jordaan and other Safa officials are simply malicious, baseless and unfounded,” Hawks spokesperson Brigadier Hangwani Mulaudzi said.

“We receive information from members of the public and institutions regarding matters of fraud, corruption and other high-profile cases almost on a daily basis and we open inquiry files on such information, so there is nothing special about us looking into the matter as presented to us by the FF Plus.”

Mulaudzi said that no case was opened against anybody in relation to the Fifa “scandal” and no formal investigation has been instituted.

“However, we can confirm that we have received documents from Freedom Front Plus, a political party in South Africa, concerning the Fifa issues and we have opened an inquiry file so that we investigate contents of the documents,” he said.

“We have not received any correspondence from the FBI or United States authorities, who are at the centre of the Fifa controversy investigations, and as the directorate we have no jurisdiction to be investigating the matter.”

On Wednesday, FF Plus parliamentary spokesperson on sport advocate Anton Alberts said in a statement that the party received confirmation that the Hawks would be investigating the involvement of South Africans in the Fifa fraud.

Alberts said the FF Plus, who had reported the case requested that the comments made by Nelson Mandela Bay Metro mayor and Safa president Danny Jordaan, that an amount of $10-million had been paid to Confederation of North, Central American and Caribbean Association Football (Concacaf) for “soccer development”, should in be investigated.

He said that the Hawks confirmed that the investigation will be done in conjunction with the American authorities and the FBI, which had already launched an investigation.

“South Africa’s minister of sport, Fikile Mbalula, should take note of the Hawks investigation, as well as the fact that South African politicians who could be involved in the fraud, will now form part of the official investigation,” Alberts said in a statement, on Wednesday.

“His attempts to create the impression that nothing untoward had been done by South Africans, is therefore inappropriate and is getting ahead of the investigation. He can rest assured that the high level investigation is now in place to reveal the truth.”

On Thursday, the Democratic Alliance challenged Mbalula to release the records of decisions by government related to the $10-million transfer Safa directed Fifa to pay to Concacaf.

DA sport and recreation spokesperson Solly Malatsi said the recently released transcript of a 2013 sentencing deal revealed that Fifa’s former official in the Concacaf region, Chuck Blazer, admitted to accepting bribes.

The transcript read: “Beginning in or around 2004 and continuing through 2011, I and others on the Fifa executive committee agreed to accept bribes in conjunction with the selection of South Africa as the host nation for the 2010 World Cup.”

Commenting on the transcript, Malatsi said: “This revelation makes the call for all documents and information surrounding the transfer of the $10-million to Concacaf even more urgent to get to the bottom of these allegations.”

“What government in their right mind hands over $10-million without documentation? To not have regular reporting on how the funds were spent is nothing short of reckless.”

Malatsi said that both government and Safa were directly implicated in the decision to transfer the money.

“If this transaction is above board, as the minister insists, it is then incumbent on Safa and the Government to seek all records of how the money was spent,” he said.

On Wednesday, Mbalula said there was no contradiction between the statements of Safa and the South African government and that government was pursuing the matter through diplomatic channels with United States authorities.

The letter, which confirmed the transfer of the amount, was signed by former Safa president Molefi Oliphant dated March 2008, however, Mbalula said the letter did not prove anything.

Mbalula said the money was earmarked for Concacaf as part of a joint decision between government and the footballing body. He explained that the money in question had never been used to bribe anyone to secure the right to host the World Cup.

On Sunday, Jordaan said the $10-million was paid to the Concacaf in 2008 as South Africa’s contribution towards their football development fund. – ANA