FIFA suspends executive during ethics probe

ZURICH (AP) -- The fallout from the Mohamed bin Hammam corruption scandal in soccer has led to FIFA suspending another leading Asian member of its executive committee on Monday.

Vernon Manilal Fernando of Sri Lanka has been banned from taking part in any soccer activities for up to 90 days "to prevent interference with the establishment of the truth" during an ethics investigation, FIFA said.

The suspension relates to the investigation by FIFA prosecutor Michael J. Garcia into the alleged misuse of Asian Football Confederation accounts. Fernando's case has been sent to the adjudicatory chamber of FIFA's ethics committee for a decision.

FIFA hasn't indicated any specific allegations against Fernando — a member of FIFA's ruling executive since January 2011 — who was a close ally of bin Hammam, the former AFC head and disgraced FIFA presidential candidate.

Bin Hammam resigned from all soccer-related positions in December after being charged with repeated ethics violations while AFC president.

Fernando, who is an attorney, accompanied bin Hammam on a trip to woo Caribbean voters ahead of the 2011 FIFA presidential poll.

FIFA has said evidence from whistleblowers pointed to bin Hammam handing out $40,000 bribes in cash to Caribbean officials during his campaign visit to Trinidad.

A yearlong audit by the Malaysia-based AFC also revealed "infringements" regarding the "execution of certain contracts" and tampering with the organization's bank accounts by bin Hammam while he was president.

Fernando is barred from involvement in the March 20-21 FIFA executive committee meeting in Zurich. The committee will recommend the next series of anti-corruption reforms sparked by the bin Hammam scandal and bribery allegations surrounding the 2018 and 2022 World Cup bidding contest.