October 18, 2014 / 11:28 AM / 3 years ago

Exclusive: Nepal FA chiefs ask FIFA to investigate own president

(Reuters) - Senior officials at Nepal’s football association (ANFA) have asked FIFA’s ethics chief Michael Garcia to launch an investigation into their own president Ganesh Thapa.

Michael J. Garcia, Chairman of the investigatory chamber of the FIFA Ethics Committee attends a news conference at the at the Home of FIFA in Zurich July 27, 2012. REUTERS/Michael Buholzer

The request, via an emailed letter seen by Reuters, comes after the country’s public accounts committee ordered an investigation of Thapa, an Asian Football Confederation (AFC) vice president, over what it said was alleged embezzlement of funds.

Thapa has repeatedly denied all allegations, saying he has done nothing wrong.

This episode marks the second incident involving an Asian FA this week, after Mongolian football chief Ganbold Buyannemekh was banned by FIFA for “soliciting and accepting” bribes from ex-FIFA executive Mohamed Bin Hammam.

In the e-mailed letter dated Oct. 15, addressed to Garcia and also sent to FIFA General Secretary Jerome Valcke and the AFC, two ANFA vice presidents ask the investigator to look into Thapa and how funds to Nepal from FIFA and the AFC were used.

“We write to you to request that you open an immediate investigation into potential breaches of the FIFA Code of Ethics and All Nepal Football Association (ANFA) Statutes by ANFA President Ganesh Thapa and Vice President Lalit Krishna Shreshtha,” it said.

”With the ANFA mired in unresolved allegations of impropriety and scandal, we respectfully request that an investigation be immediately launched by the FIFA Ethics Committee Investigatory Chamber to resolve these many concerns and questions.

“We have witnessed conduct that causes us concern, and based on our observations, and allegations of impropriety that have appeared in the media, we have reason to believe that Mr Thapa and Shreshtha may have violated the FIFA Code of Ethics and the ANFA Statutes.”

The e-mail is signed by ANFA vice presidents Karma Tsering Sherpa and Bijay Narayan Manandhar.

“What we want is for Garcia to investigate. We have been asking FIFA but they have been too slow,” Karma Tsering Sherpa told Reuters in a telephone interview on Friday.

“We want him to look into how the funds that came through various FIFA and AFC projects were used and if they are even in the audit books.”

THAPA SUPPORT

Thapa said he would cooperate with any investigation, but insisted there had been no wrongdoing and he was continuing as head of ANFA.

“There is a government agency which wants an investigation and there’s no problem, we will support them,” Thapa told Reuters by telephone on Saturday.

“If there is anybody guilty in the federation, he would be punished, that is very clear. But we are confident that we have not done anything wrong.”

Thapa, who has headed ANFA for the past 19 years, said he would continue to remain ANFA president throughout the investigation.

“Of course I continue as ANFA head, I am the head of the football association here. From my side I can tell you, no allegation has been made from ANFA. This is only propaganda.”

Reuters could not reach ANFA vice president Lalit Krishna Shreshtha, despite repeated attempts to contact him through the federation.

FIFA would not be drawn on the matter. “We are aware of the matter currently affecting the All-Nepal Football Association,” a spokesman told Reuters. “For the time being we can’t make further comments nor speculate about future scenarios.”

Garcia, a former United States attorney, is currently investigating whether there was any corruption in the turbulent bidding process four years ago which ended in the 2018 World Cup being awarded to Russia and the 2022 tournament to Qatar.

Reporting by Karolos Grohmann, Additional reporting by Amlan Chakraborty and Mike Collett; Editing by Ossian Shine

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