Olympic power broker Sheikh Ahmad al-Fahad al-Sabah of Kuwait was found guilty on Friday of forgery linked to implicating his political rivals in Kuwait in a coup plot. (More Sports News)
Sheikh Ahmad, his English former lawyer, a Kuwaiti aide and two more lawyers based in Geneva in 2014 were convicted on forgery charges linked to orchestrating a sham arbitration case in Geneva. They are likely to appeal.
The panel of three judges found they staged a legal dispute and arbitration hearing in Geneva to gain a favorable ruling. It sought to authenticate video footage that would show two Kuwaiti politicians were discussing a possible coup in the oil-rich kingdom.
Sheikh Ahmad supported the false arbitration and was its sole beneficiary, presiding judge Delphine Gonseth said.
Sentencing was to follow.
The public prosecutor previously asked the panel to sentence Sheikh Ahmad to six months’ jail time with a further two years suspended.
WHO IS SHEIKH AHMAD?
One of the most influential Olympic officials of the past decade known as the “kingmaker” of international sports elections.
Since 1991 he’s led the Olympic Council of Asia (OCA) created by his father. One year later he joined the International Olympic Committee whose members elect host cities.
Sheikh Ahmad’s influence grew in 2012 when he was elected president of ANOC, the global group of 206 national Olympic committees. He also chaired an IOC panel that distributes hundreds of millions of dollars to Olympic athletes and teams.
He was a strong supporter in the 2013 election of current IOC president Thomas Bach.
The sheikh stepped aside — ”temporarily self-suspended” in the Olympic phrase — from the IOC and ANOC after being indicted by Geneva prosecutors in November 2018. He continues to lead the OCA.
He was also an executive committee member at FIFA from 2015-17.
As a member of Kuwait’s ruling family, the 58-year-old sheikh has been a government minister and in 2005 was secretary general of the OPEC cartel of oil-producing nations.
WHAT WAS THE CASE ABOUT?
Allegations of a coup implicating a rival faction in Kuwait’s ruling al-Sabah family.
In 2013 Sheikh Ahmad presented video footage to Kuwaiti authorities that alleged to show a former prime minister, Sheikh Nasser al-Mohammed al-Sabah, and a former speaker in parliament, Jassim al-Kharafi, discussing a coup.
The two men could have faced the death penalty for treason.
Lawyers for Sheikh Nasser al-Mohammed and the al-Kharafi family filed a criminal complaint in 2015 in Geneva, which is a world hub for commercial arbitration.
The forgery charges center on a 2014 arbitration case in Geneva, later presented to the High Court in London, that sought to verify the videos.
Prosecutors allege the five defendants took part in a sham legal dispute involving backdated documents and a shell company in Delaware they controlled that led to a staged arbitration case.
The case was “the scenario of a thriller,” a lawyer for Sheikh Nasser al-Mohammed, Jean-Pierre Jacquemoud, said in court.
Prosecutor Stéphane Grodecki said the case should focus on the alleged faked arbitration process, not the authenticity of video footage.
WHO WAS CHARGED?
Sheikh Ahmad, a Kuwaiti who prosecutors say was a trusted aide, and three lawyers based in Geneva in 2014.
English lawyer Matthew Parish, who is being tried in his absence, faces the longest sentence of four years’ jail time.
The prosecutor asked the court to sentence aide Hamad al-Haroun to three years, with 18 months to be served and 18 months suspended. He lives in London after being granted asylum since 2014.
The arbitrator who was allegedly paid 10,000 Swiss francs ($10,900) to sign the judgment and another lawyer alleged to have worked with Parish face suspended sentences.
Sheikh Ahmad was questioned in court on Aug. 31. He said he trusted his lawyers and signed the documents presented to him.
The sheikh — referred to often in court by his lawyer as Mr. al-Sabah — said he believed the videos were genuine. He apologized on Kuwait television in 2015.
Long-time IOC legal advisor François Carrard was due in court last week to give a statement in support of Sheikh Ahmad. A medical issue was cited for his late cancellation.
Lawyers acting separately for the two Kuwaiti defendants have shifted the focus to Parish.
Al-Haroun’s lawyer said his client was motivated by trying to protect the state of Kuwait, that he did not have qualifications and experience for an arbitration process.