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Sports

Swiss open criminal case against fired FIFA official Valcke

Switzerland's attorney general opened a case against Valcke on Thursday 'on suspicion of various acts of criminal mismanagement'

Jerome Valcke
2 years ago

ZURICH – Fired former FIFA official Jerome Valcke has joined his former boss Sepp Blatter under criminal investigation in Switzerland.

Switzerland’s attorney general opened a case against Valcke on Thursday “on suspicion of various acts of criminal mismanagement,” the federal office said in a statement.

“The office of the attorney general began investigations in this connection and conducted searches and interviews on (Thursday). No arrest has been made,” the statement said.

The case was opened “in response to two criminal complaints in which allegations were made” following a FIFA ethics committee investigation.

An email to Valcke seeking comment was not immediately acknowledged.

En esta imagen de archivo, tomada el 1 de junio de 2011, el expresidente de la FIFA Joseph Blatter (derecha), y el exreponsable de la UEFA, Michel Platini, caminan juntos por un pasillo tras el 61 Congreso de la FIFA en Zurich, Suiza. (Foto AP/Michael Probst, archivo)

Ex-president of FIFA Joseph Blatter (R), and  ex-vice president, Michel Platini, are also under investigation in Zurich. Photo: AP/Michael Probst

FIFA banned Valcke from soccer for 12 years last month. He was accused of various charges of unethical behavior since being picked by Blatter in 2007 to be FIFA secretary general. His main duty was overseeing preparations for the World Cups of 2010 and 2014.

The Frenchman was accused of destroying evidence during the FIFA inquiry, which was provoked by allegations he sought to profit from a black market tickets deal for the 2014 World Cup in Brazil. The deal, with a FIFA ticketing partner, later fell through and no money was paid.

FIFA ethics judges also sanctioned him for using private jets for personal use and preparing a deal to sell undervalued broadcasting rights for the 2018 World Cup.

Valcke has denied wrongdoing in statements through his U.S.-based lawyer.

“Mr. Valcke is confident that when all the facts come out, it will be clear that he did absolutely nothing wrong in carrying out his duties for the good of FIFA and the sport,” lawyer Barry Berke said last month.

Still, FIFA fired Valcke in January based on an internal inquiry into his conduct and expenses.

He has long been expected to be a witness in dual American and Swiss federal investigations of corruption in world soccer implicating senior FIFA officials.

In Brooklyn, the U.S. Attorney’s office is leading an investigation of racketeering that has implicated Valcke in an alleged World Cup bidding bribery conspiracy.

In 2008, Valcke was asked to sign off on payments totaling $10 million from a FIFA account of money which belonged to South African organizers of the 2010 World Cup.

South African officials asked FIFA to transfer money to the control of then-FIFA vice president Jack Warner of Trinidad and Tobago. American prosecutors allege the money was a bribe to three FIFA voters to support South Africa’s bid in 2004, and not — as now claimed in South Africa — to create a legacy fund supporting the African diaspora in the Caribbean.

Swiss prosecutors are investigating financial mismanagement at FIFA, including during Valcke’s tenure, and suspected money laundering during the 2018 and 2022 World Cup bidding contests.

They opened a criminal case against Blatter last September for suspected criminal mismanagement and misappropriation of FIFA funds. That case relates to approving a $2 million payment to then-FIFA vice president Michel Platini in 2011, and selling undervalued 2010-2014 World Cup media rights for the Caribbean to Warner.

Proceedings against Valcke were opened as FIFA revealed his pay package for the first time in a new commitment to financial transparency.

Valcke got 2.125 million Swiss francs ($2.2 million) in 2015 with no performance bonus, FIFA said in its annual financial report. Blatter, the former president who formally left FIFA last month after 41 years, was paid $3.76 million last year.

GRAHAM DUNBAR

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