Corruption claims hit Fina before world event

BUDAPEST • Swimming's governing body Fina has been drawn into a corruption scandal days before both its presidential election and the start of the swimming events at the World Championships.

Kuwait's Husain Al-Musallam, who is standing unopposed as Fina's first vice-president, has been caught up in a controversy for appearing to demand a 10 per cent cut of potential sponsorship deals in a tape recording obtained by The Times of London and Germany's Spiegel Online.

In his role as general director of the Olympic Council of Asia (OCA), the 57-year-old is heard asking a business partner for "commissions" on deals worth "40 to 50 million" dollars (S$54.72 million to S$68.4 million). The exchange is said to be between a prospective Chinese marketing agent and Al-Musallam, who suggested that 10 per cent of any sponsorship deals arranged for the OCA should be separately channelled to him.

Fina has yet to comment on the scandal that comes ahead of its election in Budapest on Saturday and Sunday's start of swimming action at the World Championships.

The International Olympic Committee (IOC) told The Times and Der Spiegel that it had passed the allegations to its chief ethics investigator.

It is not the first time this year that Al-Musallam has courted controversy.

In April, The Times revealed, he was effectively identified in a US Department of Justice indictment as a co-conspirator who allegedly paid bribes to a football official.

Al-Musallam is the right-hand man of Olympic powerbroker and OCA president Sheikh Ahmad Al-Fahad Al-Sabah, who in April resigned from Fifa after being identified as a co-conspirator, along with Al-Musallam, in the US indictment.

The recording obtained by The Times has emerged from the FBI investigation into Al-Musallam and Sheikh Ahmad.

In yesterday's open-water 5km women's final in Budapest, American Ashley Twichell won the race in 59min 7sec, beating France's Aurelie Muller by 31/2 seconds.

Ana Marcela Cunha of Brazil was third in 59min 11.40sec.

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on July 20, 2017, with the headline 'Corruption claims hit Fina before world event'. Print Edition | Subscribe