FIFA lawyers have accused former president Sepp Blatter and two other top officials of “enriching” themselves with some CHF79 million ($80 million) in suspect bonuses. Recently resigned ethics head Domenico Scala has also been dragged into the new revelations.
Law firm Quinn Emanuel, hired by FIFA to investigate alleged corruption within world football’s governing body, released on Friday details of apparent fiduciary malpractice. The document claims that contracts were drawn up to inflate salaries, bonuses and severance clauses.
Besides Blatter, who is currently serving a six-year ban from all football activities, the payments are said to have gone to former Secretary General Jérôme Valcke and his deputy Markus Kattner, who were both fired earlier this year.
“In total, the new documents and evidence appear to reveal a coordinated effort by three former top officials of FIFA to enrich themselves through annual salary increases, World Cup bonuses, as well as undue severance payments,” the FIFA statement said.
It details multi-million franc bonuses awarded between 2011 and 2015, relating to the staging of World Cup tournaments and the alteration of employment contracts to award more generous severance packages, even if they were sacked.
Sepp Blatter's lawyers said on Friday his payment arrangements at FIFA were above board.
"We look forward to showing FIFA that Mr. Blatter's compensation payments were proper, fair and in line with the heads of major professional sports leagues around the world," said US lawyer Richard Cullen in a statement made on behalf of the 80-year-old Swiss.
Improper financial practices
Quinn Emanuel also point the finger at Domenico Scala, who recently resigned as head of FIFA’s audit and compliance committee, for approving some of the later deals. In particular, Scala is alleged to have signed off a contract extension for Kattner last year that contained a suspect severance clause.
According to media reports, Scala, who was appointed to his position in 2013, stepped down last month after an argument with current FIFA President Gianni Infantino’s over pay terms. It is reported that Infantino refused to accept CHF2 million annual pay as it was only half as much as Blatter had received.
Scala also complained that his position had become untenable because of interference from top FIFA executives in the independent ethics committees.
Quinn Emanuel said it would forward its evidence of improper financial practices of Blatter, Valcke and Kattner to both Swiss and United States prosecutors who are running separate criminal investigations against FIFA. The Swiss Attorney General raided FIFA’s Zurich headquarters on Thursday evening looking for further evidence.
The revelations have arrived just as Infantino finds himself under fire in the media for allegedly tampering with the minutes of FIFA’s Congress meeting in Mexico last month - a charge FIFA denies.
In March, FIFA said it was pursuing legal damages against 40 people and entities who had filled their pockets with at least $38 million in kickbacks and other corrupt practices.