Question: Has thoroughly unscrupulous former FIFA executive committee member/bribe-taker/wire-wearer Chuck Blazer been leading an ironic double life as the erudite R. Edward Freeman, Professor at UVa’s Darden School of Business, author of the definitive and award-winning Strategic Management: A Stakeholder Approach, and, of all things, Academic Director of the Business Roundtable Institute for Corporate Ethics?
According to an outrageously entertaining article in the New York Daily News this past Saturday, on a November 2011 evening, the 450-pound hobbit-esque Blazer, who was until December 2011 the secretary general of CONCACAF (Confederation of North, Central American and Caribbean Association Football), was cruising along NYC’s Fifth Avenue in a mobility scooter when he was stopped by two federal agents, one from the FBI and one from the IRS. The g-men offered him a choice: They were going to arrest him for over a decade of unpaid taxes on his “multi-million dollar income” or he was going to cooperate with their investigation. Faced with the possibility of a lengthy jail sentence (since this encounter, he has also admitted to taking bribes for World Cup bids), Mr. Blazer, no moron (and quite possibly smart enough to be a professor within Thomas Jefferson’s Academical Village), decided to wear a wire for the feds.
Before getting nabbed, this knavish soccer gnome made out like a bandit or like the Clintons, depending on how you like your similes and your politics. According to the article, he made at least $21.6 million in compensation between 1990 and 1998, and he failed to declare income from at least 1992-98. Also:
According to evidence in CONCACAF’s 2013 Integrity Report, Blazer and other senior CONCACAF employees used credit cards linked to Blazer’s personal American Express card to rack up a staggering $29 million in charges over a period of seven years, resulting in a maze of CONCACAF expenses and his personal charges. Blazer misappropriated at least $15 million in compensation payments from CONCACAF, including unauthorized payments of more than $11 million in commissions, $3.5 million in fees, and more than $837,000 in rent expenses, the report charged.
After more than a decade of being on the take, the ailurophilic Blazer was so out of touch with reality that he had one apartment in the flamboyant Trump Tower for himself and one for his cats:
CONCACAF’s offices took up the entire 17th floor, but Blazer often worked from two apartments where he lived on the 49th floor in $18,000-per-month digs for himself and an adjoining $6,000 retreat largely for his unruly cats, according to a source.
“He lived like there was no tomorrow,” said one source. “He ate and drank whatever he pleased. He probably thought he’d be gone before anybody noticed what he had helped himself to.”
What would a business school professor say about all this, especially one who runs an institute for corporate ethics? Well, if he’s leading a double life, he might say, “No comment.”