Ward's Action a Concern

Times Staff Writer

At the time the U.S. Olympic Committee's chief executive, Lloyd Ward, was directing staff to help a company that employed his brother in its bid to win a power-supply deal for the 2003 Pan American Games, the USOC had a contract with a Houston power-generating firm that months before had signed on to support the 2002 and 2004 U.S. Olympic teams.

The contract did not automatically give Aggreko, Inc., rights to the Pan Am Games. But as a USOC business partner and a member of the so-called "Olympic family," Aggreko executives indicated in a recent letter to USOC officials that they felt blindsided by reports of dealings involving the Ward family and Detroit-based Energy Management Technologies.

Mark Conrad, Aggreko's director of global sales and marketing, said in a telephone interview that the letter was sent to the USOC after company executives learned of Ward's connection to EMT through news reports. He said, "When the issues were seen in the paper, clearly it had us concerned. We're looking for some clarification and assurances. We registered our concerns with the USOC."

Conrad expected to hear from USOC officials Friday.

The Aggreko contract adds a fresh dimension to the USOC's consideration of Ward's future as CEO. The USOC's policy-making executive committee is due to meet Monday in Denver to consider Ward's fate after reports that beginning last April he directed USOC staff to introduce EMT to Pan Am Games organizers in the Dominican Republic. Ward declined Friday to comment.

In another development involving the USOC, chief marketing officer Toby Wong -- whom Ward hired last April -- confirmed Friday that she has retained an attorney, Philip H. Hilder of Houston. Speculation has been that she's being pressured to leave. She referred a call seeking comment to Hilder.

Asked why he'd been hired, Hilder said, "I'm not at liberty to comment at this time." A former federal prosecutor, Hilder also represents Sherron Watkins, the former Enron executive and "whistle-blower" honored recently as one of Time magazine's persons of the year for 2002.

Two EMT documents produced last year identify Ward's brother, Rubert, as EMT's president; one of the Ward brothers' childhood friends, Lorenzo Williams, is identified as CEO. The Pan Am Games' project manager, Lowell Fernandez, said Williams offered him a bribe at a meeting on Dec. 13 in an effort to win a deal; Williams denies offering any bribe.

One EMT proposal called for 53 machines at $4.6 million. No deal has been struck.

Lloyd Ward has no financial interest in EMT.

Last July 1, he signed a USOC disclosure form that said he had no real or perceived conflicts of interest. In an e-mail he sent last week to most of the members of the executive committee, he offered his apology for what he called "my part in causing this major distraction." Acknowledging an "error in judgment," he nonetheless said he did "nothing wrong."

EMT was founded in 1999. Aggreko, meantime, has a global track record of supplying back-up power and electrical services--critical for computer, television and certain security services, among others--and a long history of Olympic involvement.

Aggreko served as temporary power provider to four recent Summer Games -- Seoul in 1988, Barcelona in 1992, Atlanta in 1996 and Sydney in 2000 -- and two Winter Games -- Lillehammer, Norway, in 1994 and Salt Lake City in 2002.

In November 2000, in a statement announcing that Aggreko had been named temporary power supplier for the 2002 Games, officials also said that Aggreko would provide "continued support" for the 2002 and 2004 U.S. Olympic teams.

The financial details of Aggreko's deal with U.S. Olympic officials have not been disclosed. Conrad declined to provide details but did acknowledge that "in terms of the project we did in Salt Lake, it was a multimillion-dollar project, that's for sure."

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