Red flags: Leaked emails suggest Qatar World Cup ‘slush funds’

Mohammad Bin Hammam, Qatar’s former top football official, reportedly paid $5 million to help raise the Arab country’s chances of hosting the 2022 World Cup. (Al Arabiya)

A series of leaked emails suggest a Qatari football official paid $5 million to raise the Arab country’s chances of hosting the 2022 World Cup, a UK newspaper has reported.

The Sunday Times released more than 30 leaked emails out of “hundreds of millions” of documents it says it obtained, some of which point to evidence of alleged “slush funds” that apparently helped Qatar win its bid.

The documents relate to payments allegedly made by Mohamed Bin Hammam, the former executive member of FIFA, football’s international governing body.

READ MORE: Leaked emails: Qatar’s $5m World Cup bribe

“[Bin Hammam] used 10 slush funds controlled by his private company and cash handouts to make dozens of payments of up to $200,000 into accounts controlled by the presidents of 30 African football associations who held sway over how the continent’s four executive (Exco) members would vote,” the Sunday Times said.

In one of the documents revealed by the Sunday Times, Kalusha Bwalya, president of the Zambian football association and former international footballer, allegedly wrote to Bin Hammam after a meeting in 2009.

“As per our conversation, please Mr President if you could assist me with about 50 thousand Dollars for my Football association and personal expenditures. I hope to repay you in the near future, as the burden is little bit too hard for me at this moment,” he wrote.

Email exchange between Kalusha Bwalya and Bin Hammam’s assistant. (Image courtesy: Sunday Times)

Email exchange between Kalusha Bwalya and Bin Hammam’s assistant. (Image courtesy: Sunday Times)

Bin Hammam’s staff allegedly paid $50,000 into Bwalya’s bank account, and there is no evidence to suggest he ever repaid the debt, the newspaper said.

Bwalya wrote to Bin Hammam’s assistant again in April 2011, saying he was “a little thin on resources”. Later that month, $30,000 dropped into his account, the newspaper said.

Email exchange between Kalusha Bwalya and Bin Hammam’s assistant. (Image courtesy: Sunday Times)

Email exchange between Kalusha Bwalya and Bin Hammam’s assistant. (Image courtesy: Sunday Times)

A number of other documents seen by The Sunday Times reveal that the Somali football association allegedly received $100,000 in payments, while the Yemeni football association was allegedly paid just under $10,000.

Bin Hammam, according to the newspaper, also paid $1.6 million into bank accounts controlled by former FIFA vice-president Jack Warner, $450,000 of which was before the vote for the World Cup.

In total, around $5 million from “secret slush funds” was paid out by Bin Hammam in “dozens” of payments. The Qatari allegedly invited the leaders of 25 African football associations to Kuala Lumpur “on an all-expenses-paid junket”, the Sunday Times said.

Cash advances worth $200,000 were withdrawn to provide advances to members of the Confédération Africaine de Football, the newspaper said.

The paper said Bin Hammam declined to respond to correspondence and calls last week.

The Qatar World Cup organizing committee did not respond to a request for comment when contacted by Al Arabiya News. FIFA directed enquiries to its independent Ethics Committee, which did not immediately respond.

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Last Update: Wednesday, 20 May 2020 KSA 09:43 - GMT 06:43
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