Quick recapitulation: In May, Chuck Blazer, the lone American on FIFA's executive committee, alleged that Mohammed bin Hammam, who was running against Sepp Blatter for the FIFA presidency, had offered bribes to members of the Caribbean Football Union in exchange for votes. Blatter seized upon the opportunity to ban bin Hammam from FIFA, thereby eliminating his only opponent in the election. Jack Warner, the head of the CFU and a longtime ally of Blazer's was also booted.
Now the spotlight has turned to payments to accounts controlled by Mr Blazer in the Cayman Islands and Bahamas. The Fifa official is contracted to work for Concacaf, the regional football association for North and Central America and the Caribbean, but FBI officers are examining evidence that payments have come from the Caribbean Football Union (CFU), a separate regional football body, tightly controlled by Mr Warner.
The most recent payment of $250,000 was last March – before Mr Blazer's allegations. Mr Blazer deposited the cheque in a Bahamas account and initially claimed it was "repayment of a personal loan" he had made to Mr Warner. He now claims Mr Warner may have misused the CFU account and says he is prepared to repay the money if that is the case.
In September last year, Mr Warner approved another CFU payment of $205,000 to a private company operated by Mr Blazer from Cayman. It is also alleged that another payment of $57,750 went from the CFU to Mr Blazer's Cayman account. Mr Blazer denies any impropriety, saying: "All of my transactions have been legally and properly done, in compliance with the various laws of the applicable jurisdictions based on the nature of the transaction."
So Blazer stopped possible bribes to the CFU but may have been taking his own secret payments from the CFU? Well, now. But that's not all. According to Jennings, Blazer reportedly has an apartment in the Bahamas worth $3 million that he owns through several shell companies. He drives around a Mercedes 300 "Adenauer" Saloon valued at around $115,000 that is registered in Zurich as belonging to FIFA. He lives in the Trump Tower in New York, has a farmhouse in North Carolina, possibly another apartment in Miami, has put his children on the CONCACAF and FIFA payrolls, and uses all kinds off offshore bank accounts to funnel the money he makes off secret commissions from regional soccer marketing deals through CONCACAF. (Blazer has made almost $10 million on these commissions in five years.) No, nothing funky going on here.
Blazer is clearly under Jennings's microscope now, which is not a good place for him. Jennings is something of a folk hero in the world of soccer journalism. He's like the Terminator crossed with I.F. Stone. And in Blazer he is hunting big game that moves slowly in the open, usually from restaurant to restaurant in oversize vehicles to accommodate its bulk. This should be interesting.
FBI investigates secret payments to Fifa whistleblower [The Independent]