UPA (Utanian Press Agency)
Release: May 2, 301 AP.
Federal Police swoop on UPA offices
Federal Police raided yesterday the four major offices of the Utanian Football Association, seizing documents, suspending all communications, and arresting up to thirty people in a move that is considered the most shocking of events in the organisation's history.
Over one-hundred-and-thirty Federal Police were coordinated in the massive raid, which was personally authorised by President Okarvits himself, after several months of monitoring activities. Police raided the premises of the Utanian Football Association in Luka, Shecker, Utan Krysaror and Vela Luka, arresting about thirty employees of the organisation.
Commander Jeffrey Motu, the leader of the entire operation, made a statement after the raids, stating that "members of the UFA have been indicted on several counts of misappropriation of federal funds", relating to federal government grants, some of which related to the recently leaked stadium joint development. It is also understood that three federal public servants have also been arrested.
The misappropriation is understood to refer to missing funds, embezzlement of funds, and funds used for personal purposes. Government grants during the period are understood to have been in the order of Û10 million (C3.3 million), of which as much as 25% is missing or unreconciled with official records.
As the smoke has cleared, the UFA leadership, speaking through their lawyers declared the "shock and amazement" at their arrest, saying they have been the victim of a campaign by the President to take over the organisation. They said that it was "blatant entrapment".
President Okarvits held a press conference this morning and scoffed at the notion the officials had been victims of entrapment, saying the government had not "forced them to misuse federal funds". President Okarvits admitted that the operation had been long term, beginning as early as October last year, but said that federal search warrants for phone tapping and electronic record seizure (via the internet) had not been served by a federal judge until February this year.
This will be a critical test for federal anti-corruption legislation, admitted the President. Legal experts said that according to the federal laws, the key officials will receive a sentence as long as ten years if proven guilty, but said that there may yet be ways for them to escape jail time if they can prove federal law officers acted illegally in their search warrants. Federal Police are mostly made up of former state police, but their familiarity with relatively new federal law is weak, and may prove the downfall of the government's case, said one legal advisor.
Still, the trap has been sprung, and even if the officials are not indicted, their reputations may still be ruined, and with their absense from the UFA gives the much-needed time and ammunition to reformers in the UFA to purge the corrupt element from the UFA forever, which has been President Okarvits' intention and hope all along. Even of the charges do not stick, he may still get his way.
©UPA, 301 AP.
©Mike Ham, 2001. All rights reserved. No reproduction without, at least, tacit approval. ;-)