Top AFC official quits after 'cover-up' claims

AFC general secretary Alex Soosay was suspended by Asian football's governing body last month amid allegations that he tried to interfere with a corruption probe.
AFC general secretary Alex Soosay was suspended by Asian football's governing body last month amid allegations that he tried to interfere with a corruption probe. PHOTO: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

KUALA LUMPUR - Suspended Asian Football Confederation (AFC) general secretary Alex Soosay quit yesterday rather than fight to clear his name amid allegations that he tried to interfere with a corruption probe of the regional governing body.

The Malaysian was suspended last month by the AFC after Malaysian media reported that an official at the 46-member confederation, believed to be AFC's financial director Bryan Kuan, had been asked by Soosay to "tamper or hide" documents during a 2012 external audit.

The PricewaterhouseCoopers inspection came following the life ban handed out to former AFC president Mohammed Hammam, who Soosay worked closely with, by world football governing body Fifa for ethics breaches.

The AFC did not say if the findings of the Soosay investigation would be made public. It has also resisted calls to make public the 2012 audit.

Soosay's deputy Windsor John will take over the role until a new general secretary is appointed.

"(We) would like to thank Alex Soosay for his commitment to Asian football during his extensive 20-year-long career at the AFC and wish him all the best for his future career," a statement from the AFC read.

Also yesterday, Swiss authorities said prosecutors are investigating 53 cases of possible money laundering as they look into Fifa's handling of bids for the 2018 and 2022 World Cups.

Attorney-general Michael Lauber said the "suspicious" transactions had been reported by banks and that a "huge and complex" inquiry into football's world body could take months if not years.

"We note positively that banks in Switzerland did fulfil their duties to file suspicious activity reports," he said. "Partly in addition to the 104 banking relations already known to the authorities, banks announced 53 suspicious banking relations via the Anti-Money-Laundering Framework of Switzerland."

The Swiss inquiry into the World Cup bids - which went to Russia for 2018 and Qatar in 2022 - is one of two major fraud investigations that have rocked Fifa.

American authorities last month charged 14 people in a separate bribery investigation.

Lauber said he "does not exclude" questioning Fifa boss Joseph Blatter or general secretary Jerome Valcke, although neither is currently under suspicion.

REUTERS, AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on June 18, 2015, with the headline 'Top AFC official quits after 'cover-up' claims'. Print Edition | Subscribe