KEIR RADNEDGE in ZURICH: FIFA headquarters were raided today by Swiss investigators in what they have described as ‘a separate inquiry’ into corruption allegations leading up to the controversial awards of the 2018 and 2022 World Cups to Russia and Qatar.
A statement from the Office of the Attorney General said that 10 foreign members of the FIFA exco who voted back in December 2010 would be questioned “as persons providing information.”
These 10 would be: Michel D’Hooghe (Belgium), Jacques Anouma (Ivory Coast), Mario Lefkaritis (Cyprus), Angel Maria Villar-Llona (Spain), Senes Erzik (Turkey), Worawi Makudi (Thailand), Issa Hayatou (Cameroon), Hany Abo Rida (Egypt), Vitaly Mutko (Russia) and Rafael Salguero (Guatemala).
Five are due to step down from the exco at congress on Friday: Anouma, Erzik, Makudi, Abo Rida and Salguero.
UEFA president Michel Platini is French but, with his presidency of the Swiss-based European federation, counts as a Swiss resident.
The Office of the Attorney General of Switzerland (OAG) has opened criminal proceedings against persons unknown on suspicion of criminal mismanagement and of money laundering in connection with the allocation of the 2018 and 2022 Football World Cups. In the course of said proceedings, electronic data and documents were seized today at FIFA’s head office in Zurich.
Today, on Wednesday 27 May 2015, the OAG has seized data and documents stored in IT systems at the Fédération Internationale de Football Association (FIFA) as part of a so-called “collection of evidence on cooperative basis”.
That means that the party in possession of the data – in this case, FIFA – delivers the requested data to law enforcement authorities, or gives assistance in securing the data, thus facilitating an efficient and swift procedure.
The collection of relevant bank documents had already been ordered beforehand at various financial institutes in Switzerland. The files seized today and the collected bank documents will serve criminal proceedings both in Switzerland and abroad.
In the Swiss criminal proceedings, opened by the OAG on 10 March 2015, it is suspected that irregularities occurred in the allocation of the FIFA World Cups of 2018 and 2022. The corresponding unjust enrichment is suspected to have taken place at least partly in Switzerland.
Furthermore, the head office of the damaged party, FIFA, is in Switzerland. For these reasons, investigations are being carried out on the suspicion of criminal mismanagement (Article 158 under 1, Section 3 Swiss Criminal Code / SCC).
There are also suspicions of money laundering through Swiss bank accounts (Article 305bis, SCC). Subsequently to today’s seizure of files, the OAG and the Swiss Federal Criminal Police will be questioning 10 persons who took part in voting on the allocation of the 2018 and 2022 World Cups as members of the Executive Committee in 2010. These persons should be questioned as persons providing information.
For reasons of criminal procedure (principle of proportionality), the procedure coordinated with the requested acts of the U.S. authorities was designed in such a way as to allow the procurement of any criminally relevant data in an effective manner, and to avoid any possible collusion.
These measures were carried out simultaneously as a large number of persons involved in allocating the World Cups were currently in Zurich. These legal actions concern two criminal procedures conducted separately by the OAG and the US Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of New York.
The Swiss and US law enforcement authorities are not conducting any joint investigations, but are coordinating their respective criminal proceedings.
On 18 November 2014, FIFA had filed criminal charges against persons unknown with the OAG. Therefore, the Swiss proceeding is aimed at persons unknown, with FIFA as the injured party. With this procedure, the OAG is contributing to the struggle against corrupt behaviour and money laundering.
In further clarification the OAG noted:
In connection with irregularities surrounding football tournaments, two separate proceedings must be distinguished:
The Office of the Attorney General of Switzerland (OAG) is conducting a Swiss criminal investigation regarding the allocation of the 2018 and 2022 World Cups.
In separate proceedings, and independently of the Swiss criminal investigation of the OAG, the US Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of New York is conducting a criminal investigation into the allocation of media, marketing and sponsoring rights for football tournaments carried out in the United States and Latin America.
The Federal Office of Justice (FOJ) supports this criminal investigation as part of international legal assistance. Today, on Wednesday 27 May 2015, football officials and suspected bribers have been arrested in Zurich and placed in detention pending extradition as part of this investigation, and by order of the FOJ.
The requests for extradition and legal assistance shall be decided upon by the FOJ, and not by the Office of the Attorney General of Switzerland.