Football: AFC general secretary accused of seeking to hide evidence, says report

KUALA LUMPUR (Reuters) - The Asian Football Confederation's general secretary Alex Soosay asked for evidence to be removed prior to a 2012 investigation into corruption at the body, the Malay Mail reported on Saturday, citing video evidence obtained of the probe.

The audit was brought to look into the practices of former AFC president Mohamed Hammam, who was banned for life for a second time by Fifa that year for repeated violations of their article related to conflicts of interest.

The Malaysian paper said they had obtained a video interview dated July 26, 2012 where AFC financial director Bryan Kuan Wee Hoong told Fifa investigator Michael John Pride that Soosay had come to him for help prior to the audit.

"He started by saying how are things going... and then said things are under control. He explained the next steps by AFC and Fifa. He suddenly said 'protect me' and I was surprised," Kuan said in the video of his conversation with Soosay.

"He said based on (what) they have found out, 'have I committed any crime and will they blame me for anything? Anything that you have... is it possible to either tamper or hide it somewhere?'

"As far as I understand (Soosay was talking about) things he had signed... the instruction to initiate payment... possibly for cash advances taken by Hammam.

"I said 'let them investigate'. I think everybody understood the situation he was in. When Hammam was in AFC, everybody knew if he asked you to do something, you had to do it."

Soosay, who became general secretary of the regional body in 2008, denied the claims when contacted by the paper shortly before leaving for next week's AFC Congress in Bahrain.

"If there was something, wouldn't they have investigated me? This is just a smear against me," he said. "There is no such thing. Where is this coming from and why now?"

Qatari Hammam was elected AFC president in 2002 and was sworn in unopposed for a third four-year term in early 2011 before his sports administration career ended after he ran against Sepp Blatter later that year for Fifa presidency.

He withdrew from the election days before the vote and was banned for life for offering bribes to Caribbean voters to back him against Blatter.

Bin Hammam was successful in appealing against the bribe ban to the Court of Arbitration for Sport in early July 2012 but they damningly added their decision did not amount to an "affirmative finding of innocence".

He was then suspended provisionally by the AFC following an external audit of their accounts, while Fifa conducted their review.

Weeks later, the AFC lodged a police report claiming documents relating to Hammam had gone missing from AFC House in Kuala Lumpur, with the husband of a former AFC financial director implicated.

The Malay Mail said it was Soosay who had made the complaint but nothing came of a police investigation and prosecutors dropped charges of theft against the husband.