THE controversial $500,000 payment by Australia’s World Cup bid stolen by disgraced FIFA boss Jack Warner was routed through London and New York on the advice of a foreign currency firm, it was claimed on Wednesday.
Hours after the UK’s Serious Fraud Office said the payment to the CONCACAF football federation could fall under its money laundering legislation, Football Federation Australia confirmed that the money had passed through London – potentially giving the SFO jurisdiction to investigate it.
Football Federation Australia has consistently maintained that the money was sent to CONCACAF in 2010 to aid with the redevelopment of a centre of excellence in Trinidad, but a subsequent report by Trinidadian authorities said Warner had “co-mingled” his own money into the account and then removed large amounts illegally.
Warner was then a key FIFA powerbroker whose support was sought by Australia’s bid to host the 2022 World Cup.
The way the money was transferred has come under scrutiny, while the $500,000 payment itself has been the subject of enquiries by the Australian Federal Police and by the Auditor-General.
But FFA CEO David Gallop said the money had been sent via London and New York on the advice of Travelex, the foreign exchange firm who were the FFA’s “experts”.
“We’re happy to co-operate with the Serious Fraud Office,” Gallop said.
“The payment that was misappropriated by Jack Warner was paid in a manner that was recommended to us by our foreign exchange experts, on the basis that it was the most appropriate way of ensuring the money went into the CONCACAF bank account.
“As history now records, the money was then misappropriated by an individual (Warner) but just as with the AFP and other enquiries, we’re happy to cooperate with the SFO.
“There’s no revelation about how that payment was made, we’ve always been upfront about that.”
Swiss investigators and the FBI are probing the award of the 2018 and 2022 World Cups as part of investigations in FIFA corruption.
Warner, a former president of CONCACAF, has been indicted in the US on racketeering and money laundering charges.
SFO director David Green said the body could investigate the payment Australia made if it had the jurisdiction.
“I cannot confirm the assertion that money went through London,” Green said.
“It certainly started off in Sydney and appears to have ended up in Trinidad.
“It could be money laundering, yes. Whether the money came through London is important.
“We are still examining issues around possible money laundering and I won’t be able to go into detail as new information has come to us quite recently.”
© 2015 The Daily Telegraph | This article was written by Tom Smithies on 28 October 2015.