German soccer headquarters raided over 2006 World Cup payment

Tue Nov 3, 2015 11:13am EST
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By Andreas Kröner

FRANKFURT (Reuters) - Police and tax investigators raided the headquarters of Germany's soccer association (DFB) on Tuesday and searched the homes of officials to investigate suspected tax evasion linked to the awarding of the 2006 World Cup, prosecutors said.

The raids focused on 6.7 million euros ($7.4 million) the DFB transferred to world soccer's governing body FIFA in 2005 - adding another layer to U.S. and Swiss investigations into allegations of corruption in the awarding of the 2018 and 2022 World Cups to Russia and Qatar.

The Frankfurt state prosecutor last month launched a monitoring process - a step before a formal investigation - into the payment.

A spokeswoman said on Tuesday any other suspicion of wrongdoing, such as bribery or corruption, would not be followed up due to the statute of limitations.

Now the investigation will just focus on tax implications, which must be examined within 10 years.

Prosecutors said Wolfgang Niersbach, the president of the DFB, his predecessor Theo Zwanziger and the association's former general secretary, Horst Schmidt, who all held senior positions on the 2006 organizing committee, are suspected of tax evasion over the payment for failing to register the payment properly in tax returns.

Lawyers for Niersbach and Schmidt declined to comment. Zwanziger welcomed the raids and said he wanted the truth to come out.

"The Frankfurt state prosecutor has launched an investigation on suspicion of tax evasion in an especially serious way in relation with the awarding of the 2006 World Cup and the money transfer of 6.7 million euros from the World Cup organizing committee to FIFA," the prosecutor said in a statement.   Continued...

Picture shows the Germany's DFB football association headquarters in Frankfurt, Germany November 3, 2015.  REUTERS/Ralph Orlowski