By now it is well known that FIFA has sent a 2nd mission of global audit giants PWC from Switzerland to Cairo, to conduct an in-depth audit into the books of CAF, in a bid to answer questions that arose in the 1st audit that was conducted between August and October 2019, during the tenure of the former FIFA Delegate to CAF, Mme. Fatma Samoura.
It is this 2nd audit that caused the sudden resignation and fleeing of former CAF GS Mouad Hajji, without notice and handover, from Cairo to Morocco which ensured his unavailability to answer some of the very difficult questions now being specifically asked by FIFA.
Many will remember the embarrassing arrest of CAF President Ahmad at the Hôtel de Berri in Paris, whereupon he was questioned and released 12-hours later by the French police of the Central Office for the Fight against Corruption and Financial and Fiscal Crimes (OCLCIFF), last June.
This arrest is linked to a contract that was unilaterally terminated by Ahmad (on behalf of CAF) with the German equipment manufacturer Puma to enter instead into an agreement with a shadowy company by the name Tactical Steel, based in La Seyne-sur-Mer.
French Police have been able to link the owners of Tactical Steel, the couple of Romuald Seillier and his wife Sabine who have been long-time friends of Ahmad’s right-hand man Loïc Gérand, who was also questioned in Paris, to an inflation of over $830,000 in the CHAN 2018 equipment contract and a total of over $3 million that was paid to both Tactical Steel and its subsidiary ES Pro consulting over the span of one year.
One of the queries being made is whether as part of a system of kickbacks from the deal, the companies (Tactical Steel and ES Pro Consulting) were used to buy Ahmad a luxurious apartment and a top-of-the-range Bentley vehicle in Morocco, which he has now made a semi-permanent place of residence.
At CAF, FIFA seems to be very interested in the expenditure for hundreds of thousands of dollars in unbudgeted and unapproved items for President Ahmad.
One of the cases being investigated earnestly is how CAF paid $142,000 to buy Ahmad a top-of-the-range Mercedes Benz GLE 500 – 4MATIC alongside with a Hyundai Santa Fe Sport 4*4 SUV and Peugeot Partner Combi for an additional total of $90,000.
The vehicles were specifically flagged for use in his Madagascar satellite office and the payments sent to the bank accounts of the Madagascar car dealer.
FIFA are intent on finding out how such critical expenditure took place without the minuted approval of the CAF Exco and how a very small group within the CAF Exco could give itself the powers to make approvals for such huge expenditure in direct contravention of the CAF statutes.
Other questions that follow are what the rationale was for spending quarter of a million dollars on vehicles in Madagascar, which are fixed assets, and what happens to them in the event that Ahmad is a one-term President.
Are these vehicles then given to Ahmad as gifts upon his departure?
In whose names are the vehicles that are based in Madagascar? Are they registered in the name of CAF or in someone else’s name? Did CAF include the vehicles in its Fixed Asset register as would everything else?
Apparently, in the last so-called audited accounts of CAF, the 3 vehicles seem not to appear, instead what appears are the vehicles that were procured during the era of former CAF President Issa Hayatou.
With regards to the two smaller vehicles, which Ahmad has attempted to explain away as being for his personal employees at the office, are any of these employees at the level of CAF GS and Deputy GS’s of CAF who are based in Cairo?
Shouldn’t such expenses have been made for employees who work directly for CAF and who have the requisite seniority as opposed to mere staffers at a satellite office?
Information filtering through seems to suggest that at least one of these vehicles was gifted to one of CAF President Ahmad’s lady friends in Madagascar, his proclivities having become very well-known since a dossier detailing his sexual harassment of female employees and outside contractors was filed with the FIFA Ethics committee by the late former CAF GS, Amr Fahmy.
FIFA has been unable to stem the tide of criticism of its handling of CAF with kids gloves since the arrest of Ahmad in Paris last June, the installation of Mme. Samoura as Special Delegate for 6 months last August and the see-no-evil, hear-no-evil and speak-no-evil approach by FIFA President Gianni Infantino towards CAF despite the serious findings of the PWC audit.
Both UEFA and CONMEBOL have rallied around each other in a zero-sum game against Infantino and CAF, and in which the two confederations rightly believe that the Africans can be leveraged to vote for Infantino’s hare-brained ideas in exchange for money or reassurance that they would not be prosecuted for theft of FIFA and CAF grants.
The PWC audit therefore gives Infantino the perfect entry point to scrutinize CAF affairs and take remedial action through the FIFA Ethics committee, and in the process, rebuild the bridges that he burnt with both UEFA, CONMEBOL and AFC confederations.
The COVID-19 global pandemic also works in Infantino’s favour now as it has slowed down the need for the annual congresses and FIFA Council meetings which were going to unravel for him terribly.
Infantino’s first capitulation and chess move to assuage the UEFA-CONMEBOL-AFC bloc was his decision yesterday to accept the decisions by the UEFA and CONMEBOL confederations to postpone their EURO and COPA AMERICA competitions to the summers of 2021 which automatically killed his new expanded Club World Cup (CWC) competition slated for China.
It was a face-saving measure considering that China is ground-zero for the COVID-19 virus that has now been declared a pandemic by the WHO, and it slows down the angst by UEFA-CONMEBOL who looked likely to boycott the CWC in protest of his various measures, and his shameless dalliance with CAF and its thieving members.
CAF President Ahmad and his coterie of praise-singers and bootlickers are a festering boil on the entire global football family. This dangerous boil needs to be lanced quickly and drained before it causes sepsis of the entire global football body.
COVID-19 and the unfolding events give Infantino the time and the space to take some decisive action in Africa, and to reconstruct it without it becoming a political liability.
Will Infantino listen to reason or is he too hard-headed for his own good?