AFC suspends gen-sec over Malay Mail expose
As published in today's Malay Mail
By Haresh Deol
KUALA LUMPUR — The Asian Football Confederation (AFC) suspended its general secretary Datuk Alex Soosay yesterday, weeks after Malay Mail revealed an explosive video implicating the former footballer of wanting to “tamper or hide” documents during the height of the 2012 PriceWaterhouse Coopers (PwC) audit.
The decision came as a shock to AFC staff while former general secretary Datuk Peter Velappan stressed the organisation was answerable to all stakeholders and must continue to uphold integrity.
In a short statement on its website yesterday, AFC said: “Datuk Alex Soosay was suspended by the AFC following media allegations which have recently surfaced concerning a case in 2012.
“A video statement conducted as part of a Fifa investigation was passed to media recently and the AFC has now been able to verify its authenticity.”
AFC deputy general secretary Datuk Windsor John will take over Soosay’s role on an interim basis while the regional body conducts an internal investigation.
Malay Mail, on Tuesday, gave AFC interim caretaker Media and Communications department director Alex Philips a copy of the video which was first exposed by the paper on April 25.
The video showed AFC financial director Bryan Kuan Wee Hong claiming Soosay told him “protect me” before asking “can you tamper or hide documents which relate to me?” The video was recorded by Fifa investigator Michael John Pride on July 26, 2012, three days after Kuan met Soosay at the latter’s office at AFC House in Bukit Jalil.
Soosay, when contacted then, denied the contents of the video, saying it was an attempt to smear him. Kuan refused to comment about the video. AFC lodged a police report claiming documents — bank reports and statements linked to former president Muhammad Hammam — were missing from AFC House on July 31, 2012.
Efforts to contact Soosay, Kuan and Windsor yesterday proved futile.
An AFC staff admitted many of them were “shocked” with Soosay’s suspension.
“Most of us were busy with our meetings and it was later in the day when we informed about Soosay’s suspension through email. It was about the same time the statement was posted on the website,” said a senior staff who declined to be named.
“Many of us were aware of the Malay Mail’s expose but didn’t bring it up during conversations at AFC House.”
Another AFC insider claimed the matter was brought up at the sidelines of the AFC Congress in Manama (April 30) but no decision was made then.”
Velappan, who served AFC from 1977 to 2007, said: “It’s a pity Soosay’s career ends in such a manner but there must have been something for AFC to suspend him. I’m glad the integrity of AFC prevails over all other matters.”
“AFC is answerable to all stakeholders and should conduct strict governance and honesty. This is a great lesson to all associations ... dishonesty does not pay.”
KL deputy public prosecutor Suhaimi Ibrahim said Cheras police had yet to submit its investigation papers into the 2012 theft of the files at AFC House.