(ATR) Complete mistrust in International Boxing Association president CK Wu’s ability to run the federation with integrity is fueling an all-out assault by those seeking to remove him from office.
"We are in the ring fighting a hard battle," AIBA vice president Franco Falcinelli tells Around the Rings in an email.
Falcinelli heads the Interim Management Committee established at the AIBA Executive Committee meeting in Moscow this week. He and 12 others on the EC staged a rebellion against Wu by voting in favor of a resolution giving the IMC immediate control of the federation.
On July 28, Falcinelli sent an email memorandum to all members of AIBA that delivers the most precise account yet of the meeting. It reveals in the greatest detail so far the grievances that have led the IMC to seek a Motion of No Confidence against Wu, federation president since 2006.
"We believe that the current President has abused his powers, exploited his position and treated AIBA as a personal kingdom," IMC chairmanFranco Falcinelli writes to AIBA’s 201 National Federations in the memo seen by ATR.
"As the interim governing body of AIBA, we wish to make clear that our interest is only to safeguard AIBA’s interests, preserve its reputation and avoid a potential bankruptcy,"
Falcinelli laments that it has taken the greater part of a week to clearly explain what transpired at the Moscow meeting.
"But we have been in shock and AIBA has been in disarray after President Wu threatened us in Moscow for trying to fulfill our fiduciary responsibility as AIBA EC Members, and then refused to accept a majority vote that calls for the convening of an Extraordinary Congress, a vote of no confidence in the President, and an investigation of possible financial improprieties.
"President Wu’s stonewalling tactics, his secrecy and his apparent use of AIBA funds to launch lawsuits that have a personal nature have alarmed us, as has his tendency to treat AIBA as a personal fiefdom rather than the authoritative and transparent governing body for world boxing," says the letter from Falcinelli.
Falcinelli and three other colleagues from the AIBA EC will be in Lausanne Monday at the Federation headquarters to meet with staff for the first time since the formation of the management committee. Falcinelli ordered the office closed in the wake of the Moscow meeting, giving staff a three day holiday. Security guards were stationed at the door to the AIBA offices to prevent entry.
The meeting Monday will set the tone for the work ahead as the Federation sorts out its exact financial position and who will lead the organization on a day-to-day basis.
Falcinelli tells Around the Rings the IMC plans to name a new spokesperson.
"In these difficult times, it is very hard to differentiate who is guilty from who is right.
"We, IMC, will appoint shortly a spokesman to liaise with you, in order to defend the truth of the situation and defend our legitimate actions," he says in an email to ATR.
Wu has supposedly filed papers to block the actions of the IMC, but those moves are not expected to go in favor of the AIBA president. For now Wu will be an outcast president, unable to return to the offices at the Maison du Sport International near IOC headquarters. Wu is on notice from Falcinelli that any lawyers hired by Wu for his defense must be paid by Wu and not the federation.
William Louis-Marie, who became executive director two years ago, will likely receive intense scrutiny from the management committee if his tenure will continue. A day after the executive committee meeting in Moscow, Louis-Marie issued a defiant memo that challenged the authority of the IMC and rejected the accusations of mismanagement under Wu. The memo denied that the Federation faced the threat of bankruptcy, which is one of the major worries of Falcinelli and the IMC.
Falcinelli refers to a $10 million loan from Benkons, an Azerbaijan company. The loan dates from 2010 and was to be used to help support World Series of Boxing-Americas, a professional boxing enterpriseestablished for AIBA by Wu.
The money was supposed to be paid back in 2013, according to communications from the company to the Federation seen by Around the Rings. Wu and Louis-Marie have contended that a repayment plan is in place for the loan, but Benkons says there was never any final agreement from AIBA. The head of Benkons has given the federation 30 days to pay the loan.
Reports indicate that AIBA has just $6 million in the bank.
"This matter will be a great burden for AIBA and make it difficult for the AIBA to carry on," says Falcinelli’s memo.
"The possible scenario in which Benkons could damage AIBA with its reasonable demand for repayment (the loan has been in default since 2013) could see the freezing of AIBA HQ bank accounts by the Swiss Authorities. By the end of August, if the creditor insists on repayment, this could eventualhly cause the bankruptcy of AIBA," he says.
If that doomsday scenario holds true, the 2017 AIBA Boxing World Championships in Hamburg could be at risk. The nine-day tournament begins August 25.
The memo from Falcinelli, who is president of the national Federation for Italy, also mentions other concerns over Wu’s conduct as president.
"Our President has often said that he travels the world as a volunteer and did not receive any money from AIBA. He has traveled around the world in lavish luxury style,and as the king of boxing he has enjoyed fame and royal treatment from his hosts. Unfortunately he has also collected substantial funds from AIBA for personal use in his Taipei office, and has charged AIBA for all his personal PR and image promotion activities including his campaign for the IOC Presidency election," says Falcinelli.
Wu, an IOC member from Chinese Taipei since 1988, was one of the six candidates running to succeed Jacques Rogge as IOC president in 2013. Wu tied with another candidate with only six votes out of 80 in the first round of voting. A runoff between the two candidates to go on to the next round rejected Wu by a wide margin, making him the first candidate dropped from the race.
The IOC is keeping a watch on the activities at the Olympic boxing federation. At some point the IOC Ethics Commission might get involved if there are allegations that Wu’s conduct brings discredit to the organization. Wu is a member of the ruling IOC executive board as a representative of the summer federations. The EB meets next on Aug. 4 in London on the eve of the IAAF World Championships. Wu has told ATR he plans to attend.
Whether the IOC could come to the rescue of the federation if it did face financial ruin is not known. Inquiries have been made to the IOC about the situation.
Falcinelli and his colleagues are determined to keep AIBA in good standing with the IOC and the athletes and devotees of the sport.
"It is extremely sad to write this letter to our beloved global boxing family. However, all of us, the Executive Committee, members of AIBA, believed it is the time that truth prevail, and time for transparency. We will need to manage this emergency and make a clean start if we are to protect the future of our sport and this organization," says the memo.
The next big step towards restoring order at AIBA will come within the next three months. An extraordinary Congress will be called to allow the 201 national federations to hear for themselves the financial position of AIBA.
After that a vote of no-confidence in Wu would be taken, that measure approved at the EC meeting in Moscow. Wu refused to sign the document acknowledging the call for the extraordinary congress.
No date has been set for the meeting.
If the no-confidence vote is still needed by the time of the Congress, the evidence uncovered by the management committee will need to be presented. Depending on what is found in the coming weeks, that vote could heap even more humiliation on Wu. And while Wu may be blamed for AIBA’s problems, Falcinelli and colleagues could face questions over why the Executive Committee was not able to prevent all of this from happening.
Reported by Ed Hula.
Written by Ed Hula and Kevin Nutley
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