Exclusive: Nearly $1 million in FIFA funds missing in Guatemala - sources

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[January 30, 2016]  By Sofia Menchu
 GUATEMALA CITY (Reuters) - Nearly $1 million in funds from soccer's global governing body FIFA may have gone missing from Guatemala's soccer federation last year, according to sources and an internal audit seen by Reuters.

Dozens of soccer officials worldwide have been charged by U.S. authorities probing corruption in FIFA, in an investigation that has sent shockwaves across the sport.

In 2015, the Guatemalan soccer federation (Fedefut) received 8.24 million quetzals ($1.1 mln) in nine deposits from FIFA from February to October, according to a document signed by the federation's accountant and seen by Reuters.

The Fedefut budget presented early last year totaled about $1.5 million but only included about $250,000 in FIFA funding while the remaining funds from the nine deposits were not included, according to sources knowledgeable about the internal audit.

The internal audit was conducted by a FIFA committee put in charge of running the Guatemalan soccer federation following the arrest on corruption charges last month of top local officials, and earlier on Friday the committee filed a complaint over the missing funds with the attorney general's office of the Central American country.

The federation's year-end spending report excluded the additional deposits.

The membership of Fedefut's general assembly was also not informed of the nine deposits.

"That information was hidden," said one of the sources, adding that the results of an investigation into the missing funds will be provided to a visiting FIFA official next week.

In one document, Fedefut's top budget official Oswaldo Rolando confirmed that the federation's financial division was informed of the extra deposits.

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"I don't know why they weren't made available to the general assembly," Rolando said in the documents.

Ciro Muralles, the former head of the financial division, said in a brief phone interview that he would not comment on the missing funds until he reviews the documents.

A spokesperson for the FIFA committee running Guatemala's soccer federation confirmed that the complaint seeks an investigation into "the crimes that might have occurred."

Earlier this month, Guatemalan police arrested fugitive former Fedefut president Brayan Jimenez in connection with the corruption probe.

Jimenez has been accused of taking bribes along with Hector Trujillo, former secretary general of the Guatemalan soccer federation, who was arrested last month in the United States.

Both have denied the charges.

(Reporting by Sofia Menchu; Writing by David Alire Garcia; Editing by Jacqueline Wong)

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