FRANKFURT: German tax officials today raided the offices of the German football federation and the homes of leading officials over the 2006 World Cup slush fund scandal writes KEIR RADNEDGE.
The storm erupted two weeks ago after reports that a payment of €6.7m from the DFB to FIFA in 2005 had been used to repay a loan to the late Robert Louis-Dreyfus, former owner and ceo of Adidas, for cash to fund a bidding slush fund.
Franz Beckenbauer and Niersbach, respectively World Cup bid president and senior executive, have denied the existence of a slush fund. Ex-DFB president Theo Zwanziger has described their denials as lies, an allegation itself contested by Gunter Netzer, who headed the Swiss agency, CWL, involved in a connected TV rights deals.
This morning more than 50 revenue office agents, acting over allegations of tax evasion, raided not only the DFB’s Frankfurt headquarters but the homes of both Niersbach and Zwanziger as well as that of former DFB general secretary Horst R Schmidt.
Reportedly they removed documents, files and computers.
Agents would not have been able to raid the homes of Beckenbauer and his World Cup ceo, Fedor Radmann, because both men live over the Bavarian border in Austria.
A prosecutor’s statement, confirming action over tax evasion concerns in the the awarding of host rights to the 2006 World Cup, said: “Prosecutors in Frankfurt have opened investigations on suspicion of serious tax evasion linked to the awarding of the football championship in 2006 and the transfer of €6.7m of the organising committee for the German football association (DFB) to the FIFA football association.”
Spokesperson Nadja Niesen said charges could be filed but “we are still at the start of our investigation.”
The DFB said: “The DFB offered the investigators its full cooperation in the clarification of the accusations. The prosecutor’s office said the raids were part of an investigation into suspicion of a tax offence. The DFB itself is not among those accused.”
Last weekend the Greens’ sports spokesman Ozcan Mutlu, said that Niersbach should consider his position at DFB president. Thus far the DFB has stood firmly behind him.
Niersbach is a member of the executive committees of both embattled world federation FIFA and of European governing body UEFA.
A 10-year statute of limitations exists concerning individual liability over tax evasion however events in 2005 would fall well within company law regulations.