By Tony Attwood
As you may have heard, the case we have been following in Switzerland involving Michael Platini and Sepp Blatter ended with both being found not guilty of fraud and other offences over a lack of evidence of ill-intent relating to the £1.3million payment made for consultancy work.
Following the result, and not surprisingly, Platini announced that was now going to continue the fight for the truth – and this will now have one of two people looking over their shoulder.
Of course there is no evidence that Infantino, the man now in charge of Fifa, has any involvement in the case, but suspicion will inevitably land upon him given that he has decanted to Qatar, from whence he could not be deported, if the Swiss asked for him.
So Fifa has had to pay out damages to both men totalling a little less than a quarter of a million pounds, and there may well be a claim for further costs that Fifa might be called upon to pay.
As a warning shot, Platini said in a statement: “In this case, there are culprits who did not appear during this trial. Let them count on me, we will meet again. Because I will not give up and I will go all the way in my quest for truth.
“Despite the length of the procedure, I have always had confidence in the Swiss legal system and the rule of law that prevails here.”
As we noted previously Platini announced in April he had filed a criminal complaint against Gianni Infantino, and the ex-Swiss attorney general Michael Lauber, who was found to be colluding with Infantino in secret meetings that should never have been held, in 2016 and 2017.
As things stand the only person to be convicted thus far is still Jerome Valcke, the former Fifa secretary general, who got a suspended jail sentence for accepting bribes and forging documents. And as we noted before, Markus Kattner who served as acting Secretary-General of Fifa from September 2015 to May 2016, but was sacked after being accused of paying himself bonuses worth millions of dollars during a previous stint as FIFA’s director of Finance is still at large
Thus as we revealed before, this case stopped being about the flow of money between Blatter and Platini, although the UK media reporting the issue still seem to think that is the prime concern. More to the point is whether the state prosecutor’s office made up its entire investigation in 2015 into Platini and Blatter to stop Platini beating Infantino to the top job and as we have so often reported before, Infantino has two criminal investigations on his hands that are being handled by special federal prosecutors.
Meanwhile we still don’t know exactly why Lauber, the absolute head of the Swiss legal system, met Infantino, and kept on meeting him from July 2015 onward. Which raises the question: why? Why was the head of the entire Swiss legal system meeting with Infantino, with no one else there and no formal record of the meetings taken by an officially appointed secretary?
And another leftover from this case is that when the defence tried to call the whistleblower Markus Kattner to give evidence, both Fifa and the office of the state prosecutor objected, indicating that Kattner’s testimony would contradict the standard Fifa line adopted in its role as the aggrieved party in the Platini Blatter case.
As we said in our review of this case before the verdict was announced, “There is no doubt that the authorities have been undertaking the investigation into Fifa corruption throughout the whole affair in a ludicrous manner. It did not search for details of the bribes to corrupt Fifa executives either in their homes or their professional environment. It looked for records of the bribes within Fifa, which they saw as the defrauded party!…”
Put it another way… The Fifa boss was using Fifa money to grease the palms of a Fifa vice-president and then put the expenditure through the Fifa accounts so that Russia and Qatar got the World Cup. After which the boss of Fifa then moves to Qatar to live so he can’t be prosecuted.
So the question remains, will all the countries of the world that pay their billions into Fifa to enter the world cup, and allow Fifa (which incidentally still allows Russian delegates at all its meetings, unlike other sporting bodies) to run the show, carry on running the show?
As I said at the end of my last little piece on this affair, “the BBC is throwing millions of pounds of taxpayers’ money at Fifa year after year. And some of that money was mine.”