There are any number of odd details included in the CONCACAF forensic auditor's report which simply leave you shaking your head, but my favorite is in the section that deals with Chuck Blazer's credit card usage. They note that it was Blazer's longtime habit to pay for anything and everything imaginable with his personal credit card. Huge sums worth of goods and services rendered to the confederation every year were paid for using Chuck's personal Amex card. Other cards using the same account were given to CONCACAF employees to use for business expenses.
CONCACAF would make periodic payments to American Express to keep the account current and then, at the end of each year, Blazer would have the entire 12 months worth of charges printed up so that he could go through them line by line and separate out his personal bills from the CONCACAF ones. He'd then reimburse the confederation for any money he owed them by transferring that amount from the confederation's "commissions payable" account.
So how much money, you might be asking, are we talking about here? The Committee says that:
"From 2004 to 2011, CONCACAF’s payments to American Express in connection with Blazer’s account totaled over $29.5 million, and the portion of these payments identified as Blazer’s personal expenses totaled over $3 million."
Now for those of you who can't get credit anyplace besides your local PayDay Advance place or Western Sky (FYI: $10,000 at 89% interest over 20 years is not really a good deal, even if that sweet Native American girl says otherwise; you'd be better off to borrow from the Mafia) and thus don't instantly recognize the game here, the audit helpfully adds:
"(An employee) believed that the practice resulted from Blazer’s desire to accumulate American Express membership rewards points."
Gosh, ya think?
Now I'll happily defer to those among you with specific accounting and/or tax law expertise with regard to where this practice falls in the overall scheme of acceptable business practices. Let those among us who have never garnered airline travel miles from company-reimbursed business travel cast the first stone.
But at the very least this crosses the line somewhere south of inappropriate, and certainly well past cheesy.
(I would add in passing that for years now a certain gentleman who posts on BS has been telling - and telling and telling and telling - a story about how, when he briefly
fetched coffee and dry cleaning for Chuck Blazer worked at the CONCACAF office in New York, that Blazer took a group of employees out to a strip joint one evening. The whole point of the tale, unfortunately, has little to do with bare bouncing boobies; rather, he breathlessly describes Blazer paying the tab with an "American Express Black" card belonging to CONCACAF.
The commission report would seem to cast serious doubt on this oft-told tale of skin and graft; not only would that have run counter to Blazer's normal practices but, according to one witness, CONCACAF didn't have any credit accounts back then.
Another Urban Myth debunked. Someone call Snopes.)
A couple of people wrote and asked me to explain just how Blazer can claim that CONCACAF owes him an additional $7,000,000.
For them, and anyone else who is curious, Chuck has told the confederation that he is currently owed:
a) $5.2 million in commissions for broadcast rights for 2013-2021 CONCACAF Gold Cups
b) $700,000 in commissions for CONCACAF’s expected share of the ticket revenues from the 2013 Gold Cup and,
c) $1.25 million in commissions for the authorization of teams from the CONCACAF region to participate in the South American Football Confederation’s Copa Libertadores.
In response to the commission's request that he appear before them and answer a few, you know, questions and stuff, Blazer's lawyer responded in writing that until his client gets every dime of that money he isn't going to tell them a damned thing.
And since there'll be snowdrifts on the hills of Hell long before CONCACAF gives Blazer another dime, it's a pretty safe assumption that we won't be hearing from him soon. Or ever.
The Integrity Committee also spends a good deal of time delving into the question of CONCACAF buying a two million dollar apartment at Atlantis Paradise Island in the Bahamas.
As the green eyeshade guys somewhat caustically put it - accountants have such a remarkably poor sense of humor about this kind of thing - they "found no evidence of a business rationale for CONCACAF to own apartments at the Atlantis."
It's almost as if they don't understand the value of taking a little time to recharge the old batteries.
There are a lot of odd things about this transaction, but essentially Blazer handing over a $910,000 downstroke towards a pair of apartments sporting a retail price of $4,550,000, with the cash coming from CONCACAF FAP funds.
FAP stands for Financial Assistance Program, a FIFA project designed "to motivate and empower the associations and confederations to organize development programs that meet their needs and strengthen football and its administration in the long term."
Which would be a pretty outrageous use of the money except that after a year Blazer put the money back by transferring cash from the Confederation's "commissions" account and, eventually, the purchase was pared down to just one apartment and transferred to a Bahamian holding company set up by Chuck Blazer.
In the comments thread from Monday, BigSoccer stalwarts Kejsare and Etienne_72772, who sounded like they knew what they were talking about - and you'll get damned little of that kind of thing around here, Bucko - wrote that an actual contract wasn't really necessary.
So I consulted with a very credible one-percenter corporate attorney who will be among the first people hung when the revolution comes despite his long dedication and devotion to every left wing cause imaginable, and here, minus some arrogant snark about how it's like a contract law exam question, is his response:
"The law recognizes that a contract exists between the parties based on their behavior. So even though the written contract terminated by its terms, if the parties kept performing under the contract, a court will hold that the original contract between them remains in force and that both parties must abide by its terms. However, the contract can be terminated by either party at any time with or without a reason."
In other words, as long as Jack Warner and the Executive Committee kept on treating Chuck Blazer like the General Secretary of CONCACAF (as they undeniably did) and Blazer kept performing the duties of that position (as he most certainly did) then the terms of the 1994 deal were still in force and legally enforceable.
"Pot, Meet Kettle"
Chuck Blazer, on the topic of the cash they were shoveling into the Center of Excellence, "acknowledged to another CONCACAF senior official that this funding provided for the COE was potentially misused, stating “[t]here are so many things that we could have done with the 10s of millions of dollars wasted there."
You Can't Just Leave it at That:
Blazer is quoted in the report as telling a CONCACAF associate: "Following our strange experience with Jack in the Bahamas, during the FIFA Congress and the Obama White House visit, it became clear that continuing with side by side units were unwise since his stability was clearly questionable by then."
Wait. What? "The Obama White House Visit"??
What the hell happened? Did Jack suddenly start talking like a pirate? Ask if Obama would mind nuking Zurich for him? Inquire as to Michelle's availability for a three way?
Finally, while I was busily trying to track what was going on down in Panama on Friday - if any of you have a spare life laying around, would you send it to me? Apparently I really don't have one - I came across this photo of CONCACAF President Jeffrey Webb addressing the Congress.
In his speech he castigated Blazer and announced that he would refuse to sit on the dais with him at the FIFA Congress in May.
This probably went over very well with the audience, but when I saw the picture the first thing I noticed was the guy sitting behind Webb's right shoulder.
That's CONMEBOL President Nicolas Leoz of Paraguay, a man who has gotten so rich from bribes and graft that when it came time for his representative to tell England what his vote would cost, according to Lord Triesman, he said that Leoz doesn't really even want any more money and he'd appreciate it if England would give him a knighthood or name the FA Cup after him or something instead.
Leoz, a ripe old 85 years of age, has been President of CONMEBOL since 1986 and just last year they got so tired of re-electing the guy that they instead named him "President for Life".
In this case though, his term of office came to an end yesterday when he resigned in anticipation of the release of the long-awaited ISL report which everyone knows will show that the Swiss courts found him guilty of acccepting $750,000 in cash and helping drag FIFA to the brink of bankruptcy.
Everybody has known for a long time that he, Richard Texiera of Brazil (who has fled his country to avoid going to jail and is now living in Miami) and former FIFA President Joao Havelange were named in the report as big old bribe takers. It's common knowledge.
Webb knows it as well as anyone. But since - at the time - Leoz was still President of CONMEBOL, Our Man Jeff was more than happy to share a dais with the guy and would have been equally happy to do the same at the COngress in May.
Selective outrage. It's the FIFA way.