Switzerland take a greater interest in Fifa – at last

By Tony Attwood

As you may have seen, I’ve taken quite an interest in the Barcelona child trafficking case since Fifa first ruled on it.

In one of my comments however I suggested that although Fifa had very much done the right thing in the cases against Barcelona and the Spanish FA, we couldn’t be sure it always would as it had been granted immunity from prosecution by the Swiss authorities – where the dictatorial empire is based.

However, I have been corrected in this, for I missed a report last month of a change to the law in Switzerland, which allows the authorities to scrutinise bank accounts held by sporting governing bodies and their leaders.

This brings Fifa into line with the legislation already in place that allows the Swiss to take a peek at the doings of dictators, despots, criminals, tax cheats, oligarchs and perhaps most relevantly money launderers.

It is being reported that the last of these groups (money launderers) has been introduced because of the Fifa bribery and corruption scandals of the last few years, upon which Untold has had a word or two to say from time to time.

Roland Büchel who was influential in seeing through the new law, said that the law applied to executive committee members and employees of all the sports federations that have sought refuge from prosecution for corruption by being based in Switzerland.

The International Olympic Committee and Fifa are the most prominent but there are over 60 such enterprises in Switzerland, all taking advantage of traditional tax-exempt status and virtually zero competition regulation.

Indeed, Fifa’s own anti-corruption adviser Mark Pieth made the point that Switzerland had become “pirate’s harbour” and urged the country to clean up its act in order for Fifa and the IOC to clean up theirs.  In an urgent attempt to whitewash itself the IOC said that it “fully supports and welcomes this important move by Swiss lawmakers – it is in line with what the IOC already does.”

Switzerland is now able to look at “any strange movement” in bank accounts and financial assets held in Switzerland.  Since developments over the bidding for the Russia and Qatar world cups contained nothing but the strange movement of money, we can expect some activity – if the Swiss carry out what the law is designed to do.

And it seems that the Swiss nation has not stopped there.  It is soon to launch a new law that will make corruption in sport a criminal offense.

“This will be the really tough one which normally applied to officials of parliament or companies,” said Roland Büchel last December.   “It is already in committee, and will be in both chambers of parliament next year.”   So 2015 could be quite a fun time as these laws should cover corrupt acts abroad by non-Swiss residents if linked to a sports election being held in Switzerland.

So what this means, according to Mr Büchel is that a future bribery and corruption case in the Caribbean linked to a Fifa presidential vote in Zurich could be prosecuted in Switzerland.

Fifa uses Switzerland to host World Cup votes, so that could be fun – but watch out for them to say that it is only fair that they take the voting around the world.   The IOC has already shifted the 2017 vote for Olympic venues to Peru.

Roland Büchel also said that “It is up to Fifa and the IOC to really do their reforms and kick their people out,” he said. “If not, the law will come out much tougher.”

Untold Arsenal

13 Replies to “Switzerland take a greater interest in Fifa – at last”

  1. An interesting development this.
    Next we hear maybe is that Fifa moves its headquarters to the Cayman islands or another such tax paradise….

  2. The levels of deceit and corruption that runs through what was once believed to be the beautiful game absolutely sickens me, I have for a while now referred to myself as an Arsenal fan not a football fan, saddening really.

  3. Mmm, Somalia (recently ranked by Forbes to be the most corrupt country) is probably open for inovative sporting business. Office space is cheap in Mogadishu.

  4. ob1977
    “The levels of deceit and corruption that runs through what was once believed to be the beautiful game absolutely sickens me”

    100% agree.

    FIFA is without doubt incapable of operating without corruption. Sepp Blatter and his cronies have had their noses in the trough for as long as anyone can remember. The most alarming thing is the fact that they don’t even make any attempt to hide it, it really is obvious.

    As the BBC and Poiticians have shown (with the disgusting child abuse subject), they are too arogant to be bothered by an expose. They have too much power, too much influence, too many friends and access to obscene sums of money. They will use this to set the wheels in motion for a cordinated cover up. This will include besmirching the good name of innocent people.

    I wish I could confidently predict the demise of FIFA and Mr. Blatter. I cannot.

  5. I’m afraid the corruption that is FIFA will never change until a few powerful footballing nations have the courage to secede from the Federation. The “domino effect” would surely follow, with a chance of a return to integrity.

  6. Interesting. Surprised it took the Swiss so long to start changing things, know the US has put massive pressure on banks and the like over their anti terrorism and anti laundering policies. But I suspect, if it gets too hot for them in Switzerland, FIFA will just move somewhere else, perhaps a friendly hot nation they have just awarded a World Cup to. But , seems the US and others are out for FIFA, they will certainly hound them and make life very unpleasant for an 80 year old man only staying on to cover his corrupt tracks. That will take its toll

  7. I cannot believe that anyone would think Somalia is the most corrupt country?
    It stands to reason that where the most money is, then there’s the most corruption, only it is so hidden, until recently that is. The apples in the cart all across the world are showing their cores to be rotten, and those apples are the ones with the most money.
    Hear some flak about if the NFL is fixed? Does it ring any bells? These apples sure do get around.
    My my i’m going a little off track.

    Anyway i think the Swiss(part of the World Bank) are just trying to promote a “clean” image after taking much “dubious” money into their banks for so long. That’s just my 2 cents.

  8. ‘Where the most money is, then there’s the most corruption’. I agree with you on that one, para.

    I suspect that this is a cosmetic move by the Swiss authorities, especially as their economy is based on attracting money to their banks. A bit like the City of London.

  9. I see that the Telegraph has picked up that more big sponsors (castrol, Johnson & Johnson etc) have left Fifa since the world cup (and the corruption issues came to light).

  10. Quincy, you’re correct but I think that would have been a strong consideration for these companies (along with Emirates and Sony that left recently as well. Don’t you?

  11. My point was that it would have been better if they did name corruption as the reason. I wasn’t trying to contradict you. I suspect there is also a bit of government pressure, what with all the tension with Russia and what not. We’ll see if the sponsors come running back after the 2018 World Cup.

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