Olympics power broker convicted in infringement case

GENEVA – Ahmad al-Sabah, a Kuwaiti sheikh who for years was one of the most influential power men in world sport, faces more than a year...

GENEVA – Ahmad al-Sabah, a Kuwaiti sheikh who for years was one of the most influential power men in world sport, faces more than a year in prison after being convicted in a forgery case in Switzerland.

Sheikh Ahmad was convicted along with four others in a case in which prosecutors successfully argued that he was the mastermind of a complex plot to implicate another member of the Kuwaiti royal family in a scheme to overthrow the ruler of the country.

Sheikh Ahmad was in the paneled court when the sentence was read by the president of the court. He said he would appeal the decision and declared his innocence as he prepared to leave court. The judgment threatens not only his freedom, but also his future role in sport, where his influence extends from the upper echelons of the International Olympic Committee to the pinnacle of world football and beyond.

“I know I didn’t do anything; I will await the appeal, ”Sheikh Ahmad told reporters at the court. “I will never stop, because I believe I am innocent.”

The case is not the only legal issue that has plagued Sheikh Ahmad in recent years. He is also a co-conspirator indicted in a United States Department of Justice corruption case that led to the conviction of a senior football official in 2017. Sheikh Ahmad later resigned from the FIFA board of directors and pledged to withdraw from football while the case was pending. .

Since November 2018, he has been declared “self-suspended” by the International Olympic Committee after the accusations which led to the court ruling on Friday. Until then, he had been a key lieutenant to IOC President Thomas Bach, whose electoral victory he contributed to 2013 by securing key votes. He is also credited with winning support for Tokyo’s bid to host the recently concluded 2020 Olympics.

Much of Sheikh Ahmad’s power comes from his control of the Olympic Council of Asia, a body created by his father 40 years ago. Although he gave up all of his other official roles in the sport as allegations and accusations mounted, Ahmad continued to lead the organization until Friday, when the group said he would “temporarily step down.” .

Geneva prosecutors successfully argued that Sheikh Ahmad, his former English lawyer, a Kuwaiti aide and two other Swiss-based lawyers orchestrated a sham arbitration in order to trap other members of the royal family in a conspiracy to Rebellion.

“It’s very strange, I was a criminal lawyer in Geneva for a long time; it is the first time that I see a fictitious arbitration, declared Pascal Maurer, the lawyer for Nasser al Mohammed al Sabah, a former Prime Minister of Kuwait who was one of the figures whom Sheikh Ahmad tried to trap.

“It was very sophisticated in the way they planned it, but it was not very sophisticated in the way they did it because they made a lot of mistakes in their organization and in the way they falsified documents. “

For the IOC, the case is another embarrassing episode involving one of its most senior figures. The organization said it would not take any action against Sheikh Ahmad because he decided to suspend himself. Sheikh Ahmad’s only character witness was to be Francois Carrard, the longtime former IOC Director General who continues to be his legal adviser. Mr Carrard did not appear in court last Thursday, with the court citing an unspecified medical problem.

Despite his legal problems, Sheikh Ahmad continued to play an influential role in the sport behind the scenes.

A candidate for a FIFA board seat claimed she was told she had no chance of winning because Sheikh Ahmad had already ruled that a rival candidate from Bangladesh should retain the seat.

In April, the Court of Arbitration for Sport, also based in Switzerland, on the woman’s side, Mariyam Mohamed, a football official from the Maldives, and agreed that Sheikh Ahmad actively interfered in the 2019 elections organized by the Asian Football Confederation to achieve the desired result.

Mohamed told the court that he had been told to drop his candidacy and that in return Ahmad would use his influence in international football circles to secure any other post of his choosing at the AFC or FIFA.

Sheikh Ahmad’s influence also extended beyond the world of sports. As a senior royal Kuwaiti official, he served as government minister and also served as secretary general of the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries, the influential cartel of petroleum-producing countries.

At the height of his power, the Sheikh, known for his beefy security entourage, was a magnet to sports officials who sought to secure much-sought-after committee roles and other sinecures. He has spent decades building his portfolio, which began as running the Asian Olympic body after his father was murdered in Iraq’s invasion of Kuwait in 1990. His roles have grown rapidly and at one point. donated nearly a dozen.

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Newsrust - US Top News: Olympics power broker convicted in infringement case
Olympics power broker convicted in infringement case
Newsrust - US Top News
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