African soccer executive Johansen faces corruption charges
FREETOWN, Sierra Leone (AP) Confederation of African Football executive committee member Isha Johansen was charged with 10 counts of corruption and abuse of office in her home country of Sierra Leone on Monday.
Johansen, the president of the Sierra Leone Football Association, pleaded not guilty to the charges, which relate to her work at the association.
She appeared in court alongside the secretary general of the association, Christopher Kamara. Kamara faces three counts of corruption and abuse of office, with two of them joint charges against him and Johansen. He also pleaded not guilty to all charges.
Johansen is one of the few women in leadership roles in international football. She sits on FIFA’s member associations committee and is a popular figure at the world body.
She and Kamara were suspended from their positions at the SLFA last week.
Prosecutors revealed details of the charges against the pair at Freetown High Court. Prosecutors also increased the total number of charges from six to 11.
Johansen and Kamara are accused of misappropriating $50,000 given to the SLFA by the African confederation where Johansen is an exco member. The money was meant to be used to conduct MRI tests to check the age of members of the Sierra Leone Under-17 team, prosecutors allege, but was misused. In a second joint charge, Johansen and Kamara are also accused of misappropriating around $3,200 after the federation paid that amount to Johansen’s husband, Arne, purportedly as repayment for a loan he gave to the SLFA.
Johansen also faces multiple counts of abuse of office on her own relating to using $6,000 of federation money to pay travel costs for a person, apparently her personal assistant, who is not an employee of the federation.
Kamara faces an abuse of office count on his own for allegedly charging the SLFA money to use his personal computer.
The judge adjourned the case until Wednesday after the two entered their pleas. They were released on bail.
The case is the culmination of a two-year investigation by Sierra Leone’s Anti-Corruption Commission into Johansen and her leadership of the SLFA. She was elected head of the SLFA in 2013 but her time in charge has been troubled.
Last year, Johansen was detained and questioned over allegations that money given to the SLFA by FIFA had been misappropriated. At the time, FIFA defended Johansen and said there had been no misuse of its money.
Meanwhile, presidential and executive committee elections at the federation should have been held in August, when Johansen’s first term in office ended, but have been delayed indefinitely over ethics checks for candidates and disagreements over who is allowed to stand for office.