Exclusive: Swiss authorities examine FIFA grants in soccer probe - source

Wed Jun 24, 2015 11:07pm EDT
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By Mark Hosenball

LONDON - (Reuters) - Swiss authorities are examining development grants made by FIFA around the world as part of their investigation into the sport's global governing body and its award of World Cup hosting rights for Russia in 2018 and Qatar in 2022, a source familiar with the probe said.

In particular, the investigators are looking at how the money was spent and whether there is any falsification of documents, said the source, who spoke on the condition of anonymity. The grants mainly go to national soccer associations and are often earmarked for new soccer pitches and related facilities, or for training programs.

The Swiss investigation is running alongside and in cooperation with a U.S. probe that led to the criminal indictment on May 27 of nine current and former FIFA officials and five executives in sports marketing and broadcasting on bribery, money laundering and wire fraud charges.

Information technology specialists from Switzerland's federal police agency, as well as prosecutors and financial experts, are poring over masses of evidence collected by the office of Switzerland's Attorney General, the source said.

The evidence includes voluminous internal records, most in digitized form, seized from the offices of FIFA's President Sepp Blatter, Secretary General Jerome Valcke and finance and administrative chief Markus Kattner. The source said "almost everything" in Valcke's office had been seized.

Blatter, who announced earlier this month that he was stepping down after 17 years as FIFA president, Valcke and Kattner have not been accused of wrongdoing by the Swiss and U.S. authorities.

A FIFA spokeswoman said in an email response to questions from Reuters that it "is cooperating fully in the actions by the Swiss authorities." It made no further comment.


A staff walks past a logo of soccer's international governing body FIFA at their headquarters in Zurich, Switzerland, May 27, 2015.  REUTERS/Ruben Sprich