Friday 21 October 2016

Sepp Blatter should be investigated for Caribbean TV rights scandal - former FIFA advisor

Published 14/09/2015 | 12:30

FIFA President Sepp Blatter
FIFA President Sepp Blatter

Outgoing FIFA president Sepp Blatter should face a criminal investigation over FIFA's sale of World Cup TV rights to Jack Warner for a fraction of their true worth, it has been claimed.

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Mark Pieth, a Swiss professor of criminal law and FIFA's former anti-corruption adviser, said there was "prima facie" evidence about the sale which saw Warner make a profit of at least £11million.

Blatter signed the contract selling the Caribbean rights for South Africa 2010 and Brazil 2014 to the Warner-controlled Caribbean Football Union (CFU) for 600,000 US dollars (€530,000) - about three per cent of the sum Warner sold them on for.

Investigations by Press Association Sport have shown that Warner, at that time CFU's president, sub-licensed those rights to his own Cayman Islands-registered company J & D International (JDI).

In 2007, JDI sold on the rights to Jamaica-based cable TV station SportsMax for a value that the broadcaster reported on its own website as being between 18million and 20million US dollars.

Pieth, the former chairman of FIFA's independent governance committee speaking at the International Association of Prosecutors in Zurich, said: "Blatter has to defend himself against a form of embezzlement charges. They have prima facie evidence. That means they have to open an investigation."

The revelations highlight the questionable relationship between the outgoing FIFA president Blatter and Warner, his one-time backer and Caribbean powerbroker, who is now fighting extradition from Trinidad to the United States on corruption charges.

US attorney general Loretta Lynch will provide the latest details on the FIFA investigation at a news conference in Zurich on Monday. Swiss attorney general Michael Lauber is also due to give details on the separate investigation into the 2018 and 2022 World Cup votes.

In her address to the IAP conference, Lynch warned that no individual was immune from prosecution and that the co-operation with the Swiss authorities had been crucial.

She said: "Our message is clear: no individual is impervious to the law. No corrupt organisation is beyond its reach.

"It is this spirit of co-operation that allowed both Switzerland and the United States to announce this past May that we are conducting investigations into bribery and corruption in the world of organised football.

"In the United States, that investigation resulted in charges including racketeering, wire fraud and money laundering conspiracies spanning two decades. It exposed high-ranking officials of FIFA; leaders of regional and other governing bodies under the FIFA umbrella; and sports marketing executives who, according to the indictment, paid millions of dollars in bribes and kickbacks to obtain lucrative media and marketing rights to international soccer tournaments.

"It resulted in arrests here in Switzerland through the assistance of Attorney General Lauber, Swiss authorities and their colleagues in the Federal Office of Justice, and is continuing with an independent Swiss investigation of FIFA."

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