FIFA has issued a complaint for “criminal mismanagement” against its former president, Sepp Blatter.
The complaint has been sent to the Zurich prosecutor and relates to the involvement of Blatter and other former officials of the world governing body in the FIFA museum project in the city.
Blatter vehemently denies wrongdoing. “The accusations are unfounded and are vehemently repudiated,” said his lawyer Lorenz Erni.
In documents seen by the Palestinian Authority news agency, FIFA states: “Following a detailed review of the historical facts and circumstances relating to the construction and ongoing operating costs of the FIFA Museum, FIFA has learned of many serious irregularities with respect to this project, raising strong suspicions of criminal conduct by different officials and companies associated with the matter.
As a result, FIFA now has the obligation to refer the matter to the Zurich prosecutor’s office for further investigation and, if necessary, prosecution.
“The criminal complaint filed by FIFA is directed against various members of the former FIFA leadership, including former President Joseph Blatter, as well as other possible ‘unknown’ suspects. It is suspected that these individuals may have been involved in various acts of criminal mismanagement and possibly other related crimes. ”
FIFA Under Secretary General Alasdair Bell said: “Given the massive costs associated with this museum, as well as the general way of working of the previous FIFA administration, a forensic audit was conducted to find out what actually happened here.
“That audit revealed a wide range of suspicious circumstances and management failures, some of which may be criminal in nature and therefore must be properly investigated by the relevant authorities.
“We concluded that we had no choice but to report the case to state prosecutors, especially since the current FIFA administration also has fiduciary responsibilities to the organization and we intend to fulfill them, even if those before us. sadly it failed. ”
The museum project began in 2013. Two years later, amid a corruption scandal, Blatter announced his resignation from the FIFA presidency after 17 years in office.
The documents allege that the project was “deliberately mismanaged” and point to the decision to put 140 million Swiss francs (over £ 117 million) in a building that was not owned by FIFA, to lock FIFA into a contract for rent with the owner of the building: the insurance company. Swiss Life – Until at least 2045, which will cost you an additional 360 million Swiss francs and no other suitable properties were considered.
The documents state that the previous FIFA administration “repeatedly misled different FIFA bodies as to the cost and feasibility of the project,” including the existence of alternative sites.
It also alleges “serious conflicts of interest” and “suspected nepotism” in relation to the project. Swiss Life declined to comment on the matter when approached by the PA news agency, saying it was a matter for FIFA and its former executive team.
It is understood that the matter will also be brought to the attention of FIFA’s independent ethics committee.
Blatter is already under criminal investigation in Switzerland for a separate matter: an alleged improper payment to former Uefa president Michel Platini. FIFA’s ethics committee issued him an initial eight-year ban on football in connection with that payment, which was reduced to six years on appeal. That sanction was confirmed by the sports arbitration court. Platini and Blatter have continued to maintain that they did nothing wrong
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