Exclusive: FIFA's Blatter, Valcke hire U.S. lawyers for corruption probe

Wed Jun 17, 2015 7:35pm EDT
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By David Ingram and Nate Raymond

NEW YORK (Reuters) - FIFA President Sepp Blatter and its Secretary General Jerome Valcke have both hired high-powered U.S. lawyers to represent them as a corruption probe roils soccer's global governing body.

Blatter recently retained Richard Cullen, the chairman of the law firm McGuireWoods and a former U.S. federal prosecutor, said a person familiar with the matter, who spoke to Reuters on condition of anonymity.

Separately, Blatter's top lieutenant, Valcke, has hired prominent New York defense attorney Barry Berke, a second source said.

Blatter, 79, announced on June 2 that he would stand down as FIFA president, only four days after he was reelected to the position, saying he had lost the mandate from the entire world of soccer.

That followed U.S. authorities' indictment of nine current and former FIFA officials and five corporate executives for allegedly running a criminal enterprise that involved more than $150 million in bribes over 24 years.

U.S. prosecutors have not accused Blatter or Valcke of wrongdoing. However, they believe Valcke was involved in $10 million in FIFA bank transactions that are a key part of the investigation, a source said in early June.

Valcke said last week that while he had signed off on the transactions he had done nothing wrong, adding that allegations against him were "insanity."

Among the issues the FBI is examining is Blatter's stewardship of FIFA, sources have said. Blatter became president in 1998 and remains in the job pending an election that likely will not occur before December.   Continued...

FIFA President Sepp Blatter addresses a news conference at the FIFA headquarters in Zurich, Switzerland June 2, 2015.REUTERS/Ruben Sprich