By Tony Attwood
As expected the Swiss authorities have started criminal proceedings against Sepp Blatter. Just as expected Platini has been asked to provide information.
Here’s the statement…
“On the one hand, the OAG suspects that on 12 September 2005 Mr. Joseph Blatter has signed a contract with the Caribbean Football Union; this contract was unfavourable for Fifa. On the other hand, there is as suspicion that, in the implementation of this agreement, Joseph Blatter also violated his fiduciary duties and acted against the interest of Fifa and/or Fifa Marketing & TV AG.”
Swiss broadcasters are reported to have found the contract that shows that that Blatter sold TV rights to Jack Warner at below the market rate.
“Additionally, Mr. Joseph Blatter is suspected of a disloyal payment of 2m Swiss francs to Michel Platini, president of Union of European Football Associations (UEFA), at the expense of Fifa, which was allegedly made for work performed between January 1999 and June 2002 ; this payment was executed in February 2011.”
A disloyal payment is one that is not in the interest of the company making the payment. Blatter has refrained from going to any country with an extradition treaty with the USA but is gradually finding the net closing in around him.
14 Fifa officials have been arrested following the change in Swiss law which we were just about the only blog to highlight at the turn of the year, which allowed all this to happen. Untold suggested Fifa might hold future meetings in countries that were not friendly to the USA. Fortunately for world football, unfortunately for Fifa, it turns out they either didn’t read Untold, or they didn’t take us seriously.
Blatter’s second in command, Jérôme Valcke, was recently hauled off a plane and suspended.
US department of justice’s case is that members of Fifa are involved in racketeering, money laundering and fraud. Racketeering (not a term we use in the UK) is criminal activity performed to benefit an organization such as a crime syndicate: extortion, money laundering, loan sharking, obstruction of justice and bribery. Which is pretty much what Untold has been saying about Fifa since we started publishing in January 2008.
13 officials have been arrested. Three have been charged in US courtrooms and 10 are awaiting extradition.
Part of the investigation is now into the Russia 2018 and Qatar 2022 World Cups. The investigators have seized 11 terabytes of data. Quite a lot really.
Meanwhile, but far far less reported in the British press, there have been repeated calls on financial authorities in London to assist in following the money involved in these transactions as it moved through London banks.
In a parliamentary select committee hearing inquiry Deborah Unger of Transparency International wondered about why the Serious Fraud Office has been apparently inactive.
“They could use the follow-the-money tools that are already here. Questions do have to be asked. Has any money been spent in the UK on luxury goods and services, property for example? It is very hard to go after people directly without knowing if the money has come through the UK. But you can start asking the questions.”
The SFO has said it would examine whether it had a role to play. After three months of sitting on its hands it seems to have decided its hands are clean.
“The reform process needs to be top to bottom,” Ms Unger continued. “They are circling the wagons. They don’t want that kind of reform because they don’t want the scrutiny it will bring to the past.”
Which is pretty much the Untold position.
And… and this is a key part. Paul Farrelly, one of the MPs on the culture, media and sport select committee, said the SFO had not asked “a single question of the FA”.
We may wonder why.
Why is no one also asking the FA about its involvement in Fifa, a body to which he has persistently allied itself, bidding for tournaments, playing teams in every available tourney, never once standing up against Fifa. Why is no one asking the SFA to look at what is happening in the UK?
Of course there have been campaigns by people who simply want to replace Fifa with their own people – many of whom have been in Fifa before but not yet arrested. Damian Collins MP said a payment made by the Australian 2022 bid team to Jack Warner. But Mr Collins is a member of New Fifa Now, which just wants replacement, rather than reform. In my personal view we should not be led astray by these people.
The Swiss attorney general, Michael Lauber, has asked London and called other jurisdictions to do more to help the award of the 2018 and 2022 world cups indentifying 121 suspicious bank transactions. This is more like it.
Mr Lauber said, “We are also looking for means to accelerate the procedure; in this context an additional challenge might be seen in the fact some of the information of interest to our criminal proceedings is under seal. It would be helpful if parties involved would cooperate more substantially.”
The SFO said it had, “actively been assessing material in relation to this matter and has made plain it stands ready to assist continuing international criminal investigations.”
Just how deep this goes into English football we are no closer to finding out, because of a complete and absolute blackout on the issue in most of the press and on TV.
The FA has conducted itself so badly, and is in such a total financial mess, having made mass redundancies in recent months, and had its grant from Sport England stopped because of its gross incompetence, that there must be questioning of what on earth has been going on financially within the FA and whether this has anything to do with Fifa.
But where is the questioning from the UK press?
I listen, and wait, and wait, and wait.
But Untold isn’t going away.
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