EXCLUSIVE: Danny Jordaan hires top lawyers in FIFA corruption case

2016-08-02 16:48
Danny Jordaan (File, Netwerk24)

Danny Jordaan (File, Netwerk24)

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Johannesburg - South Africa's soccer boss and Nelson Mandela Bay Mayor Danny Jordaan has hired top lawyers to defend himself in the corruption probe that has rocked football body FIFA.

News24 can reveal that Jordaan, who hopes to be re-elected as the African National Congress' mayor for Port Elizabeth on Wednesday, has employed top Sandton attorney Anthony Norton and senior advocate Gilbert Marcus to engage with authorities in the US on his behalf.

His local lawyers have also enlisted the services of top New York-based law firm Arnold & Porter to assist their client during the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s (FBI) probe of FIFA, that has so far seen the arrest of 38 soccer bosses and businessmen since May 2015.

The arrests have triggered separate investigations in Australia, Colombia, Costa Rica, Germany and Switzerland.

This raises fresh questions about the Americans’ interest in Jordaan's role during South Africa’s campaign to secure the hosting of the 2010 FIFA World Cup, and the mayor's reluctance to travel abroad since the FIFA scandal broke in May last year.

Jordaan, who is president of the South African Football Association (SAFA), and who was appointed mayor of Nelson Mandela Bay in May last year, has consistently denied being involved in bribery to secure the hosting of the tournament.

But he is yet to explain why he has engaged top lawyers to act on his behalf and why he has ceased traveling internationally, fuelling speculation that he fears arrest by the FBI.

Jordaan's office was sent questions by News24, but is yet to respond.

Arrest fears dismissed

In February, when he failed to attend FIFA's congress in Zurich, Jordaan said he was in Port Elizabeth to deal with the municipality's budget.

At the time Jordaan told City Press: "It's all rubbish and a non-issue to me… The DA is fighting politics and I am not going to dignify that with a comment. Everybody knows it was budget week, so I wasn't supposed to be there to approve it and rather sit in a football meeting?"

"Last time they were accusing me of being a part-time mayor who was not interested in the people. The FBI were not even there. Who was arrested? Where is the warrant of arrest? My name is not there. This is sickening and they just want attention."

Jordaan is the former chief executive officer of the local organising committee (LOC). In the wake of the FIFA scandal, he has admitted agreeing to a $10m payment to the Confederation of North, Central American and Caribbean Association Football (Concacaf) for its so-called African Diaspora Legacy Fund.

The FBI says this was a bribe by South Africa to "buy" Concacaf's three votes for hosting the 2010 tournament. The FBI has identified two South African "co-conspirators" in its indictment, who are yet to be named.

Both conspirators were identified as "high-ranking official(s) of the 2006 South Africa World Cup bid committee and the 2010 South Africa World Cup bid committee and local organising committee" in the indictment.

Only Jordaan, former housing minister Tokyo Sexwale and Orlando Pirates boss Irvin Khoza served on both bid committees and the LOC.

Hotel room cash payment

Sexwale, who unsuccessfully ran for FIFA president in February, gave evidence about the $10m payment before a US grand jury in December. His evidence is sealed and can only be opened on instruction of a court.

The second charge of corruption relates to a $10 000 cash payment made by a "high-ranking South African bid committee official" in a hotel room in Paris to Daryan Warner, son of former Concacaf president Jack Warner.

Daryan Warner pleaded guilty to reselling World Cup tickets in 2013 and agreed to help US authorities in exchange for not being charged with fraud and money laundering in connection with the South African tournament.

Jack Warner has been arrested, banned from football for life, and is facing extradition to the US.

In June last year, a letter written by former SAFA president Molefi Oliphant in 2008, and sent to Jerome Valcke, FIFA's former secretary-general, was leaked to the press.

In the letter, Oliphant instructed Valcke to subtract $10m from the $423m FIFA owed to South Africa's LOC for the 2010 World Cup and to pay it to Concacaf's Diaspora Legacy Programme.

"In view of the decision by the South African government that an amount of USD 10million from the organising committee’s future operational budget funding and thereafter advances the amount to the Diaspora Legacy Programme. In addition, SAFA requests that the Diaspora Legacy Programme be administered and implemented directly by the President of Concacaf who shall act as a fiduciary of the Fund," Oliphant instructed Valcke.

Money in personal bank accounts

But a letter written by Jordaan in 2007, in which the same request for $10m to be paid to the Diaspora Legacy Programme was made, was leaked soon after Oliphant's letter. Jordaan's letter, though, implicated South African government officials not mentioned in Oliphant's letter.

"The South African government has undertaken to pay an amount equivalent to US$10m toward the 2010 FIFA World Cup Diaspora Legacy Programme. The Deputy Minister of Finance, Mr Jabu Moleketi, has recommended that this money be paid over to FIFA..." Jordaan wrote to Valcke.

In its indictment, the FBI maintains that the money paid by FIFA to the Diaspora programme ended up in the personal bank accounts of Warner, who subsequently paid $750 000 to Chuck Blazer, Concacaf's former general secretary.

Jordaan's high-powered legal team of Norton and Marcus previously joined forces to successfully represent Absa-owned AllPay in the company's challenge of the R10bn tender to distribute the government's welfare grants.

The Constitutional Court ruled in 2014 that the SA Social Security Agency (Sassa) had erred in its awarding of the contract to Cash Paymaster Services (CPS) and ordered Sassa to issue a new tender.

CPS is a subsidiary of the US-owned Net1 UEPS.

On its website, Arnold & Porter partner Marcus Asner lists, as one of his biggest cases, assisting a "major South African financial institution" in an investigation involving "alleged bribery in connection with a tender to provide payment services to South African social grant beneficiaries".

Track record

Asner co-ordinated the company's co-operation with the US justice department and Securities and Exchange Commission.

Under "litigation", Asner lists representing an "individual in FIFA investigation and prosecution pending in the US District Court for the Eastern District of New York" as one of his major cases.

It is unclear whether Asner is the lawyer from Arnold & Porter representing Jordaan in his dealings with the US authorities. Neither Asner, nor Arnold & Porter responded to News24's queries.

Marcus referred News24 to Norton, who didn't respond to requests for comment on the status of Jordaan's correspondence with the US authorities.

Sarah Rodriguez, a spokesperson for the US department of homeland security, referred News24 to the FBI for comment.

"You'll need to reach out to the FBI for comment," said Rodriguez.

News24 made several attempts to obtain comment from the FBI's press office in the USA, but phone calls to the bureau went unanswered.

Cindy Harvey, spokesperson for the US embassy in South Africa, did not respond to queries emailed to her. She could also not be reached for comment on her phone line at the embassy.

READ: The full Fifa indictment here (reference to South Africa from Page 80)

Read more on:    safa  |  fifa  |  danny jordaan  |  corruption

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