The missing $10million - Fresh allegations rock the world of boxing
Fresh allegations about financial irregularities within the world governing body of Olympic boxing, the AIBA, has increased pressure on its controversial President Dr Ching-kuo Wu.
According to a report in today’s New York Times, the irregularities are so widespread that accounting firm PricewaterhouseCoopers, who investigated the matter, recommended that the organisation hire a criminal lawyer.
AIBA has been embroiled in a series of controversies in recent years.
The standard of judging in the Olympic boxing tournament in Rio came under sustained criticism in the wake of Ireland’s Michael Conlan dropping a split decision to the Russian bantamweight Vladimir Nikitin in the quarter finals.
The AIBA stood down its seven five star judges/referees following Conlan’s fight, though it’s not yet clear whether this was due to the growing disquiet about the standard of judging or an unrelated matter.
Conlan after his defeat in Rio
Subsequently all 36 judges/referees who worked at the Rio Games were stood down by AIBA pending a full investigation.
But the financial controversy which has rumbled on for several years could have more serious implications for the organisations in the longer term than the judging row.
The issue centres on a $10million loan which the AIBA obtained from a private company in Azerbaijan to help pay for the launch of the World Boxing Series in the United States. The money was never paid back and it now appears that more than half the loan cannot be accounted for.
Under pressure from the President of the International Olympic committee, Thomas Bach, Dr Wu – who is a member of the executive committee of the IOC – hired PricewaterhouseCoopers to investigate the loan.
The report has never been published – according to the New York Times it wasn’t even released to members of the AIBA’s own executive. However, the paper was obtained a full copy of the damning report.
The report says that AIBA, which is based in Switzerland, did not properly account for the losses it made on its ill-fated expansion of the World Boxing Series into the US on its books, possibly breaking the law.
AIBA, which is based in Switzerland, also did not properly account for the losses on its books, possibly breaking the law.
These and other concerns led the investigators at PricewaterhouseCoopers to write: "It is recommended that legal counsel be sought by AIBA as the actions, and non-actions, of some of the directors may contravene several articles in the Swiss Criminal Code."
From a boxing perspective, what is interesting is how the granting of the loan coincided with an uptick in medals by Azerbaijani boxers.
Since the loan was made, Azerbaijan has won nine medals, including four gold, at the three world championships since 2010, up from four medals, without a single gold, before that. Azerbaijani boxers won four medals in the past two Olympics, compared with three at the two Olympics before that.