News 15th September 2015

DoJ to pursue ‘additional charges’ in FIFA case

The US Department of Justice (DoJ) has confirmed that it has widened the scope of its investigation into allegations of corruption at FIFA. “Separate and apart from the pending indictment, our investigation remains active and ongoing, and has in fact expanded since May”, said US Attorney General Loretta Lynch at a 14 September joint press conference with the Swiss Office of the Attorney General (OAG). “As I made clear at our initial announcement, the scope of our investigation is not limited, and we are following the evidence where it leads. I am grateful for the significant cooperation and substantial evidence that we have received from all quarters. Based upon that cooperation and new evidence, we anticipate pursuing additional charges against individuals and entities.”

The OAG, which has been working on a parallel investigation into FIFA, confirmed that Swiss authorities have seized property in the Alps in relation to alleged money laundering. “House searches have been conducted in Switzerland and further evidence has been collected”, said Swiss Attorney General Michael Lauber at the press conference, reported The Guardian. “Where proportional and needed, financial assets have been seized, including real estate – for example flats in the Swiss Alps. Investments in real estate can be misused for the purposes of money laundering.”

Lauder also confirmed that the OAG is now investigating 121 suspicious banking transactions in relation to FIFA – up from the 103 confirmed at the end of August. He also confirmed that the OAG would be investigating a 2005 contract which appears to show that FIFA President Joseph S. Blatter sold the TV rights to the 2010 and 2014 FIFA World Cups to Jack Warner (pictured) for US$600,000 – alleged to be a fraction of their true value.

In a statement issued on Sunday, FIFA denied allegations that the contract had allowed Warner – then FIFA Vice President and CONCACAF President – to make a profit of US$11 million on resale of the rights. ‘On 12 September 2005, FIFA signed a contract with the Caribbean Football Union [CFU] regarding TV broadcasting rights’, read the emailed statement. ‘Under the terms of this agreement, FIFA was to receive a fixed licensing fee as well as a 50 per cent share of any profits related to the subcontracting of these rights. The CFU made several breaches to the contract and failed to meet its financial obligations. The obligations concerning the required pre-approval for subcontracting were not met either. For these reasons, FIFA terminated its contract with the CFU on 25 July 2011.”

Both the DoJ and the OAG declined to speculate on when their investigations would be complete. “This investigation will take much more than the legendary 90 minutes”, said Lauber. “We are not even near the half-time break. We are also looking for means to accelerate the procedure. It would be helpful if the parties involved would cooperate more substantially.”

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