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Todt blasts "unfounded insinuations"

NEWS STORY
09/12/2013

On Friday Jean Todt was elected president of the FIA for a second term. He used the opportunity not only to look forward but also to look back and dismiss threats which the federation has faced over the past few months. During his acceptance speech at the FIA's Annual General Assembly in Paris Todt claimed that the "press was used repeatedly to spread these false claims, where they only harm the image of our FIA family." It is an interesting allegation to make because, as Pitpass has revealed, one of these claims came from an FIA member.

In his speech Todt said "I welcome healthy debate. But debate should focus on ideas, not on individuals. It should lift an organisation, not lower it; it should strengthen an organisation, not weaken it. Above all, debate must be based on truth, honesty, and integrity.

"I deeply regret that in the course of these last few weeks we have had unfounded insinuations cast on the FIA's governance, the transparency of its accounts, and the integrity of its members. Worse, the press was used repeatedly to spread these false claims, where they only harm the image of our FIA family. Faced with this irresponsible attack, we took a decision not to engage in a public fight with the media which would have only been destructive for our organisation.

"Instead we chose to address our clubs directly with the truth. We led a campaign based on honesty and ideas and policies for the future. You fully understood and supported this, and for that I thank you sincerely."

Todt's reference to the transparency of the FIA accounts clearly relates to a report from the Sunday Telegraph in October by Pitpass' business editor Christian Sylt which revealed that the Royal Automobile Club (RAC) had written to the federation demanding details of payments totalling £12.2m listed in its financial statements. In his letter to the FIA, RAC chairman Tom Purves wrote that "there is a lack of the narrative or detail in the FIA accounts that one would not expect of an international entity, or UK entity."

The RAC is Britain's oldest motoring organisation and, crucially, it has been a member of the FIA since it was founded in 1904. It makes one wonder whether Todt's speech was aimed more at the media or the member clubs themselves.

As Pitpass reported, Nick Craw, president of the FIA's decision-making body the Senate, replied to Purves and provided further information about the £12.2m payments. He also challenged the claim that the FIA accounts lack narrative or detail and the correspondence continued to-and-from from then on.

Pitpass hears that the RAC still isn't satisfied and if this turns out to be the case then it could mean that Todt still has a battle on the horizon even though he has clearly won the war... albeit totally unopposed.

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