AFC to probe ex-Guam chief over bribes

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KUALA LUMPUR: Guam’s suspended football supremo Richard Lai is facing an investigation after he pleaded guilty in the United States to taking nearly $1 million in bribes, Asia’s governing body said Wednesday.

Lai, who has been president of Guam’s football federation since 2001, pleaded guilty in a federal court in New York last month to accepting nearly $1 million in bribes from 2009-2014.

He was provisionally suspended by world governing body FIFA for 90 days in late April.

Mohammad Ali Al Kamali, the independent head of integrity, has recommended “the opening of an investigation” into the 55-year-old, the Asian Football Confederation said in a statement.

Lai, a US citizen, is also an AFC executive committee member who also sits on FIFA’s audit and compliance committee.

He admitted receiving $100,000 in bribes from an AFC official in 2011, in exchange for voting for him for FIFA president.

He also pleaded guilty to receiving more than $850,000 in bribes between 2009 and 2014 from a faction of soccer officials wanting his help to influence FIFA and gain control of the AFC.

“The allegations contained in Richard Lai’s indictment are, if substantiated, extremely serious. The AFC, which has placed good governance and integrity at the centre of its vision and mission, is duty bound to investigate,” Mohammad Ali added.

The AFC said it will not make any further comment while the investigation is ongoing.

A large-scale US investigation has seen federal prosecutors in New York indict around 40 football and sports marketing executives with allegedly receiving tens of millions of bribes and kickbacks.

The AFC was embroiled in controversy during the tenure of disgraced former president Mohamed bin Hammam, who stood against Sepp Blatter in the 2011 F IFA election.

AFP

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