FIFA millions frozen in US-led asset raid as Sepp Blatter faces corruption accusations

Corruption money allegedly transferred through 50 accounts at banks linked to FIFA heads

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 17 December, 2015, 5:26pm
UPDATED : Thursday, 17 December, 2015, 5:43pm

The Swiss Justice Ministry said it had frozen millions of Swiss francs related to world soccer body FIFA, a spokesman said on Thursday, confirming a media report.

“U.S. authorities asked for documents related to 50 accounts at different banks, through which corruption money is supposed to have transited,” ministry spokesman Folco Galli said in a statement, confirming a report by Swiss newspaper Tages-Anzeiger.

He said a “high double-digit million amount” had been frozen following the U.S. query.

Numerous FIFA members are known to have accounts in the country.

Nicolas Leoz, a longtime head of the South American confederation, CONMEBOL, had 12 accounts in Switzerland, the newspaper said quoting details from the US request.

The United States has charged 39 individuals, including Leoz, and two companies over bribes of more than $200 million paid for football marketing and television rights deals.

Blatter faces allegations

Suspended FIFA president Sepp Blatter went to the world body’s headquarters Thursday to answer corruption allegations amid a report that Switzerland has frozen more than $50 million in accounts suspected to be linked to football bribes.

Blatter, who, along with vice president Michel Platini, faces a long suspension, arrived at FIFA’s base in Zurich in a black Mercedes and made no comment as he entered.

Before the hearing, Blatter, 79, wrote a letter to FIFA’s 209 members calling the FIFA ethics commission’s investigators “the inquisition”.

Blatter is under criminal investigation in Switzerland over a two million Swiss francs ($2 million/1.8 million euros) payment made to Platini in 2011 for work carried out about a decade earlier.

Platini’s case will be heard on Friday, but he has said he will boycott the tribunal. His lawyers will go however.

FIFA has been plunged into several corruption scandals this year, which played a key role in Blatter’s announcement in June that he would stand down when a new election is held in February.

Platini was considered favourite to take over but his campaign has been frozen since he and Blatter were suspended in October over the payment which they insist was legal.