FIFA ethics committee investigates one of its own members

Sun Apr 3, 2016 7:36pm EDT
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By Brian Homewood

ZURICH(Reuters) - A member of the ethics committee responsible for rooting out corruption in soccer's governing body FIFA has himself been placed under a preliminary investigation, the watchdog said on Sunday.

Juan Pedro Damiani was being investigated over a possible business relationship with fellow Uruguayan Eugenio Figueredo, one of the soccer officials arrested in Zurich last year, the committee said in a statement.

The committee's chief judge, Hans-Joachim Eckert, had recently become aware of the relationship between Damiani and Figueredo, who is a former head of the South American Football Confederation, the statement said.

The committee said it could not give further details on the evidence of the relationship or on why it might be problematic.

Damiani told Reuters in Montevideo on Sunday that he broke off relations with Figueredo when the latter was accused of corruption.

"We (had) worked with Figueredo (but) when the (FIFA) issue came to light we immediately ended a professional link," he said. "My (law) firm is a firm of 60 people, not just me. ... Until May 2015, Figueredo appeared to be a straight person."

The committee statement came after media reports said that possible links between the two had been revealed by documents among the so-called Panama Papers, a huge leak of data by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists that were based on files from Panama-based law firm Mossack Fonseca.

Eckert had informed the committee's chief investigator Cornel Borbely who "has immediately opened a preliminary investigation to review the allegations in question," the statement said.   Continued...

The FIFA logo is seen at the FIFA headquarters in Zurich, Switzerland March 18, 2016. REUTERS/Ruben Sprich