KEIR RADNEDGE REPORTS: Michel Platini’s corruption ban expires next month just as, coincidentally, new questions have been raised about UEFA’s financial dealings under his presidency between 2007 and 2015.
The latest Football Leaks book from Der Spiegel journalists Rafael Buschmann and Michael Wulzinger and released to a European media consortium claims that the European federation paid €380m, destined for the Ukrainian federation, to an offshore company controlled in secret by the oligarch Igor Surkis, president of Dynamo Kiev and brother of Grigori Surkis, who was president of the FFU and vice-president of UEFA.
This same company was simultaneously being used to pay under-the-table expenses incurred by Dynamo, including the wages of some of the club’s players.
The discovery was made in December 2016 made by staff working for Andrea Traverso, head of the department which operates UEFA’s financial fair play regulations during a review of Dynamo’s accounts.
A summary of their work by the Mediapart website reports that the inspectors discovered a shell company named Newport Management which was registered in the British Virgin Islands tax haven. Newport was being used to secretly pay some of Dynamo’s salaries, transfer fees and agents’ commissions.
Yet “for more than 15 years,” UEFA has been paying to Newport properly due to the Ukrainian federation. Newport is believed to have been run by Igor Surkis, owner of Dynamo since 2002 when he succeeded brother Grigori on the latter’s pursuit of influential roles on UEFA and FIFA committees.
Grigori was president of the UFF from 2000 to 2012, member became a member of the UEFA executive committee in 2004 and rose to one of its vice-presidencies in 2013, under Platini. He was considered to have been a supporter of Platini’s election ousting of Lennart Johansson in 2007 and also a key figure in the award of the Euro 2012 finals to Ukraine and Poland.
In December 2016 UEFA’s new president, Aleksander Ceferin, ordered an investigation into the affair. This was apparently wound up in May 2017 without any disciplinary or ethics charges being raised.
The link between Newport and Dynamo had already come to the notice of world federation FIFA which had fined the club 50,000 Swiss francs in 201 for breaching regulations concerning third party interests.
Platini has told Mediapart that he had never been informed about such payments to Newport which later ceased. His general secretary was Gianni Infantino, now the president of FIFA.