Blatter says payments were "fair and clean" in FIFA probe

Banned former FIFA president Joseph Blatter has denied claims he enriched himself over the last five years at football's governing body.

"Everything is clean and fair as my lawyer, Richard Cullen, has said," Blatter told dpa Saturday.

His comments follow an internal investigation at FIFA which said Blatter and two other former FIFA top officials enriched themselves by more than 79 million Swiss francs (80 million dollars) in the last five years.

Blatter's US lawyer Cullen had said later Friday: "We look forward to showing FIFA that Mr Blatter's compensation payments were proper, fair and in line with the heads of major professional sports leagues around the world."

In the latest developments to rock FIFA, lawyers investigating the payments said Blatter, former secretary general Jerome Valcke and former finance director Markus Kattner made "a coordinated effort...to enrich themselves through annual salary increases, World Cup bonuses and other incentives."

Blatter and Valcke were banned for six and 12 years respectively by FIFA's ethics committee in February. Both deny wrongdoing.

Kattner was last month dismissed as FIFA's deputy secretary for "breaches of his fiduciary responsibilities in connection with his employment."

The Quinn Emanuel law firm conducting the investigation said "contract arrangements benefited a small group of former FIFA officials" and some contained "provisions that appear to violate Swiss law," according to a FIFA statement Friday, one day after Swiss prosecutors again raided the organization's headquarters.

Quinn Emanuel partner Bill Burck said "the evidence appears to reveal a coordinated effort by three former top officials of FIFA to enrich themselves through annual salary increases, World Cup bonuses and other incentives."

FIFA said that "the investigation has revealed evidence of breaches of fiduciary duty."

The findings also raised concerns about lack of oversight by FIFA’s compensation sub-committee, it added.

"FIFA has shared this information with the Office of the Swiss Attorney General and it will brief the U.S. Department of Justice on the matters as well," it announced, referring to criminal proceedings in football corruption cases in both countries.

In September, Swiss authorities launched a criminal process against Blatter on suspicion that he mismanaged FIFA funds.

Blatter's office was raided and documents were seized on September 24 for the first time.

Swiss prosecutors were looking into "a disloyal payment" of 2 million Swiss francs by Blatter to Michel Platini, the former head of European football body UEFA. The transaction in February 2011 was purportedly made for work that Platini performed about 10 years earlier.

FIFA has banned Blatter and Platini from all football-related activities in the wake of the scandal.

The Swiss top prosecutors also suspect that Blatter closed a contract in detriment to FIFA's interests in 2005 with Jack Warner, the disgraced former head of the Central and North American soccer body CONCACAF.

In March, Swiss authorities also initiated proceedings against Valcke for suspected disloyal conduct of business and other possible criminal offences.

Blatter had led FIFA since 1998 but announced his resignation in June 2015 shortly after corruption allegations against him and senior FIFA officials surfaced.

US prosecutors have charged numerous Latin American football officials including Warner with corrupt dealings related to marketing contracts.

Blatter's successor Gianni Infantino was tasked with cleaning up the game but he too has come under pressure after German media reported he requested an audio recording of a council meeting held last month in Mexico City be deleted.

He was also accused of being involved in a plot to remove former independent audit and compliance chairman Domenico Scala, who eventually resigned in protest at a FIFA congress decision which allowed FIFA's new-look council the right to appoint and dismiss members of key control bodies.

FIFA hit back by saying: "Any insinuations this decision was the result of a conspiracy are ludicrous."

Last update: Sat, 04/06/2016 - 20:21
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