Swiss authorities place Blatter under criminal investigation after raid at Fifa
Sepp Blatter has been placed under criminal investigation in Switzerland and could face a prison sentence of up to 10 years after being personally targeted in Fifa’s fourmonth
corruption crisis for the first time.
The Swiss authorities swooped on the headquarters of football’s global governing body in Zurich yesterday, forcing the 79yearold Fifa president to cancel a press conference as he
was questioned by investigators on site.
Mr Blatter is suspected of both criminal mismanagement and misappropriation of funds, according to the Swiss prosecutor, in a scandal that has seen several senior Fifa figures
indicted for racketeering, wire fraud and money laundering.
Richard Cullen, a lawyer with McGuireWoods representing Mr Blatter, said that the Fifa head was cooperating with the Swiss authorities and “certainly no mismanagement occurred”.
Fifa declined to comment on whether Mr Blatter would immediately step down, but Fifa’s independent ethics committee suggested that if the inquiry produced significant evidence
against him they could remove him.
“Today, at the home of Fifa, representatives from the office of the Swiss attorneygeneral conducted interviews and gathered documents pursuant to its investigation,” Fifa said.
Michel Platini, president of Europe’s Uefa who is campaigning to succeed Mr Blatter in an election at the end of February, was also dragged into the mire.
A statement by the Swiss prosecutor said the charge of misappropriation which can carry a penalty of between five and 10 years’ imprisonment related to a SFr2m ($2m) payment
allegedly made by Mr Blatter to Mr Platini.
The statement said the payment was “at the expense of Fifa” and allegedly for work carried out by Mr Platini from January 1999 to June 2002, when the Frenchman worked for Mr
Blatter at Fifa. But the transfer was only made in February 2011, according to the Swiss prosecutor.
A representative for Mr Platini, who was also interviewed by Swiss officials yesterday, declined to comment.
The investigation into criminal mismanagement, which can carry a penalty of up to five years imprisonment, relates to an auction for television rights to broadcast the 2010 and 2014
Malcolm Moore London
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