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Football woes Swiss may soon pass football bank data to US

Platini’s French lawyer told the Associated Press on Tuesday that the FIFA ethics committee had requested a life ban for Platini

(Keystone)

Switzerland's justice office says it has agreed to a US request to provide bank documents as evidence in the ongoing corruption investigation into 14 football officials and businessmen on charges of bribery, money laundering and racketeering. 

A spokesman for the Federal Office of Justice confirmed an NZZ news report on Tuesday that the office had last week decided to hand over bank details for the US corruption investigation. 

“An appeal against this decision can still be filed with the Federal Criminal Court within 30 days,” Folco Galli told the Swiss News Agency. 

Details of the bank accounts involved were not given, though a US Department of Justice indictment published in May identified accounts in Zurich used by marketing agents allegedly to steer bribes to football officials. 

Football’s world governing body, based in Zurich, is currently embroiled in a massive corruption scandal. The arrest in May of seven football officials in Zurich on the eve of FIFA’s congress and the indictment of seven others on charges of racketeering, wire fraud and money laundering has led to a widening series of investigations in Switzerland, the United Kingdom and the United States. 

The Federal Office of Justice has received four requests for legal assistance in connection with the US investigation. The main request and two smaller ones were already field before the arrests. The last dates back to September 25.

Bank transactions

Swiss prosecutors have said that Swiss banks alerted them to dozens of suspicious transactions in relation to the probe.

Several banks, including Zurich-based Julius Baer, started internal investigations after the US Justice Department named them in the May indictment. Swiss banking giant UBS says it has received inquiries from authorities about its banking relationships with FIFA officials, just days after rival Credit Suisse made a similar announcement.

Meanwhile, the justice office has approved the extradition of several FIFA officials. Two have already been handed over to the US authorities, while five others refuse to be extradited to the US. It will be left to the Swiss courts to decide.

In addition to the US investigation, Switzerland has also opened an investigation into the awarding of the 2018 and 2022 World Cups.

The Swiss Attorney General's office has also opened criminal proceedings against outgoing FIFA president Sepp Blatter. He is being investigated on suspicion of criminal mismanagement and misappropriation.

Life ban

In October, Blatter and his possible successor Uefa President Michel Platini, were provisionally suspended by the governing body’s ethics committee for 90 days. 

On Tuesday, Platini’s French lawyer told the Associated Press that the ethics committee had requested a life ban for Platini, a move that would rule the UEFA president out of the race to succeed Blatter. 

Blatter could also face expulsion from world soccer over a $2 million payment of FIFA money he approved to Platini in 2011. 

Platini denies wrongdoing and says he had a verbal contract with Blatter to receive the money. 

Blatter has argued that an oral agreement is valid under Swiss law. However, FIFA was also not legally required to pay Platini after five years passed.

swissinfo with agencies

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