Throwback: ACC takes interest in Kalu’s Qatar bribe issue
THE Anti Corruption Commission says it has taken interest in the US$80,000 that Kalusha Bwalya allegedly received from Qatar’s Mohammad Bin Hammam.
And Kenneth Chipungu, who was sports minister at the time, challenged the Football Association of Zambia president Bwalya to be honest over the money and not accuse the Rupiah Banda government of freezing funds to the association.
Bwalya allegedly received US$80,000 from former FIFA vice-president Bin Hammam which he claims was a debt meant to help run the affairs of the Football Association of Zambia.
In an interview yesterday, ACC spokesperson Timothy Moono said the commission was studying the case and would soon come up with a position.
“Right now we have noted it. We are studying the case,” Moono said. “We have to look at the totality of the whole case.”
Bwalya has refused to state whether the money he claims to have borrowed from Qatar’s Mohammad Bin Hammam on behalf of FAZ was remitted to Football House coffers.
In response to a press query yesterday, Bwalya refused to comment on whether he had remitted the funds to FAZ and whether the debt was to repaid by FAZ.
“I stopped commenting on this issue. Hope you appreciate that,” Bwalya responded to a press query.
Commenting on Bwalya’s explanation that he borrowed US$50,000 from Bin Hammam following a fractious relationship between FAZ and the Banda government, Chipungu said Bwalya should be honest and explain what he did with the money.
Chipungu said despite him as minister raising issues of accountability in FAZ, he never froze funding but simply put measures to ensure accountability in the association’s use of public funds.
“I remember FAZ had a lot of debt when I was appointed minister. The debt was about K2 billion (old currency) from hotels and travel agencies and at the same time the national team needed money to prepare for a match. I can’t just remember which match, that is when the President (Banda) requested for the release of K10 billion (old currency),” he said.
Chipungu said the ministry had to appoint its accountant to handle the money even during the Angola AfCON because there were issues of lack of accountability with FAZ.
“We never froze funding to FAZ, that I refute. All we did was to appoint our accountant to handle the money because there was misuse from FAZ,” Chipungu said.
He said if Bwalya was claiming that the money he got from Bin Hammam was a debt, the government was going to be aware of it.
“FAZ, through the National Sports Council of Zambia, is a wing of government and whatever borrowing they have to make it should be done through government. So we were going to know if the money was borrowed for FAZ,” said Chipungu.
And Dickson Jere, who was Rupiah Banda’s special assistant for press and public relations and was also appointed chairman of the FAZ fundraising committee, said he could not recall the government freezing funds to the association.
“I can’t remember government freezing funds to FAZ, but I remember there were issues of accountability raised and the then minister (Chipungu) made an attempt not to release money for a Africa Cup qualifier match against Mozambique but the President intervened and money was released,” Jere said.
On Tuesday Bwalya, who admitted receiving US$50,000 from Bin Hammam, explained that the money was a debt meant to run FAZ affairs.
“Yali ni nkongole (it was a debt) which I offered to pay…. When I said I had the money to repay they said ‘no’, and that’s where we are. Bin Hammam is a personal friend of mine, I knew him for a long time. Lulya twakwete ama (when we had) problems ku (at) FAZ, he said to me that ‘if you need any help, let me know’, so he said he was going to help me. There were other discussions before what was published, so later I decided to brief him that natukwatako ama (we had) problems because yalifula (they were a lot) as we were fighting akamfulumfulu (confusion). That is why I wrote him that e-mail so that he can help us with that amount. He, however, did not send us that amount, he sent less. Yali ni nkongole (it was a debt) which I offered to pay back, you understand, it’s not that amount indicated,” Bwalya said. “The money was put to good use because that’s the time twalepishanya nabena Lupiya (when we were pursuing each other with Lupiya). I offered to pay them as indicated but they said ‘no, just wait, we will tell you’. In principle, we should have paid it back because yali ni nkongole.”
The UK Sunday Times recently alleged that Bwalya was one of 30 African football association presidents said to have been bribed for Qatar’s 2022 vote.
The Sunday Times alleges that Bwalya received a total of $80,000 between 2009 and 2011 from Bin Hammam to help solicit a vote for the 2022 World Cup bid, allegations the FAZ president denies.
FIFA is investigating the bidding process for the 2018 and 2022 FIFA World Cup.
The Investigatory Chamber of the FIFA Ethics Committee in a statement said, “After months of interviewing witnesses and gathering materials, we intend to complete that phase of our investigation by June 9, 2014, and to submit a report to the Adjudicatory Chamber approximately six weeks thereafter. The report will consider all evidence potentially related to the bidding process, including evidence collected from prior investigations.”
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