(WFI) FIFA’s ethics committee has launched a probe into the cash-for-votes 2006 Germany World Cup bribery scandal and organizing committee officials including Franz Beckenbauer.
After examining the Freshfields report commissioned by the German Football Association (DFB), the investigatory chamber said it had decided to open formal proceedings against six individuals “in the context of the 2006 FIFA World Cup host selection and its associated funding”.
Franz Beckenbauer, former vice-president of the DFB, Germany 2006 president and a former member of the FIFA Executive Committee, is already being investigated by German and Swiss authorities over his involvement in a bribery scheme to secure World Cup hosting rights. He denies wrongdoing.
FIFA’s ethics committee is also turning its attentions to Wolfgang Niersbach, former president of the DFB and vice-president of the 2006 local organising committee. He is currently a member of the FIFA and UEFA executive committees.
Theo Zwanziger, former president of the DFB, vice-president of the LOC and a former member of the FIFA and UEFA executive committees, faces serious questions about the cash-for-votes allegations.
Also under investigation are:
* Helmut Sandrock, former secretary general of the DFB and tournament director of the LOC
* Horst R. Schmidt, former secretary general of the DFB and vice-president of the LOC
* Stefan Hans, former chief financial officer of the DFB and chief financial officer of the LOC
FIFA’s top investigator Cornel Borbély will lead the investigation.
“He will examine all relevant evidence and hand over the case reports at the appropriate time, along with recommendations, to the adjudicatory chamber of the ethics committee,” FIFA said in a statement.
Beckenbauer, Zwanziger, Schmidt and Hans will be investigated for “possible undue payments and contracts to gain an advantage in the 2006 FIFA World Cup host selection and the associated funding”, which could constitute breaches of Code of Ethics rules regarding ‘offering and accepting gifts and other benefits’ and ‘bribery and corruption’.
Regarding Niersbach and Sandrock, the investigatory chamber will probe a possible failure to report a breach of the FIFA Code of Ethics. They are under suspicion for flouting ethics regulations governing ‘general rules of conduct’, ‘loyalty’, ‘duty of disclosure, cooperating and reporting’ and ‘conflicts of interest’.
“The list of possible violations may be supplemented as additional information becomes available,” FIFA said in its statement.
Earlier this month, the international law firm Freshfields concluded in its 380-page report following an investigation that there was no evidence of Germany buying votes from FIFA members to stage the 2006 World Cup “but we cannot rule this out either”.
It was unable to confirm there was no corruption involved due to a lack of evidence and the inability of the investigators to speak to all parties involved, including disgraced former FIFA president Sepp Blatter.
The report was commissioned by the DFB and investigated a payment of $7.3 million made by the DFB to FIFA in April 2005 that the DFB claimed last year was a return on a loan from former Adidas chairman Robert Louis-Dreyfus. The 2006 World Cup organizing committee originally claimed the payment was money to be used for the opening gala of the tournament. But Freshfields said it was transferred directly to a bank account of Louis-Dreyfus. Adidas denied knowledge of the payment.
The report also detailed a series of payments totaling $11 million from 2006 World Cup organizing chief Franz Beckenbauer to former FIFA official and AFC president Mohamed Bin Hammam. The payments in 2002 were transferred from a Swiss bank account to a Qatar-based scaffolding company owned by Bin Hammam.
By INSIDER editor Mark Bisson
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