(WFI) Sepp Blatter says US lawyer Michael J. Garcia, appointed today as lead prosecutor for FIFA’s two-chamber ethics body, will be free to examine the ISL scandal and investigate allegations of bribery that tarnished the 2018 and 2022 World Cup bidding contests.
Garcia and Germany’s Hans-Joachim Eckert were named as the chairmen of investigatory and adjudicatory chambers of the revamped FIFA ethics body tasked with helping to clean-up FIFA’s battered image. Their mandate runs until the 63rd FIFA Congress in Mauritius next year when elections for the positions will be held.
The decision came at a FIFA Executive Committee meeting in Zurich. Members of the two ethics courts were also appointed – all six football confederations are represented – while the football governing body’s new Code of Ethics was unanimously adopted; it will come into force on July 25.
Blatter confirmed that Swiss court documents released last week, which confirmed that former FIFA chief Joao Havelange and Brazilian FA boss Ricardo Teixeira had received millions of dollars in kickbacks in the ISL scandal, would be handed over to Garcia’s panel for review.
The 76-year-old Swiss told a press conference that Garcia’s duty was to have this case “analysed on ethic, moral matters and then to report back to the executive committee”.
After last week admitting he knew of the backhanders paid to Havelange and Teixeira, which he labelled as “commission” because they were legal at the time in Swiss law, he was pressed again about payments in the ISL scandal.
“I knew nothing about any other people getting payments,” he stressed.
Despite proclaiming to be a “happy president” following the ExCo’s decisions, Blatter today adopted defensive body language, repeatedly crossing and uncrossing his arms and looking nervy.
“Our reforms process is going onwards. Now we have the two big instruments we were looking for [in the ethics courts],” he said, noting that the audit and compliance committee would begin its work under new chairman Domenico Scala on Aug. 9.
One of this committee’s top tasks is to decide if the salaries of the FIFA president and Ex-Co members should be made public.
In the wake of a backlash from German FA leaders last week for implying possible corruption in the vote to award the 2006 World Cup to Germany, Blatter said he had not reflected on more calls for him to resign. He said the FIFA Congress re-elected him last year and only its 209 member associations could decide if he should go.
World Cup Votes to be Investigated?
Blatter said corruption within FIFA was not subject to a statute of limitation, meaning that Garcia was free to re-evaluate the numerous claims of bribery that made a farce of the World Cup bidding race. The FIFA ExCo awarded the 2018 and 2022 editions to Russia and Qatar in December 2010.
Asked if he was fully prepared for what Garcia’s committee was capable of digging up, Blatter said: “I am prepared for everything. Not only me… they [ExCo members] have said at the time of the meeting, we follow you, we are all together.
“Now we have these independent bodies we have to work with them and follow what they are going to find out whenever they open a case, it is a matter for them.
“Let them work. The decisions of these committees will be accepted. There is no doubt.”
Blatter confirmed that his suggestion that Havelange should be stripped of his honorary FIFA president title was not discussed at today’s meeting. “This is a matter for the congress,” he said.
Today marked the first time that a woman, IOC member and Burundi FA President
Lydia Nsekera, had sat at FIFA’s top table. She was appointed as a member of the ExCo at the Congress in Budapest in May.
Commenting on the milestone in his inimitable way, Blatter said he was “very happy” to welcome a woman to the ExCo: “I opened the meeting with ‘lady and gentlemen’… lovely I have to say”
CONCACAF president Jeffrey Webb was today appointed as a new member of the FIFA Finance Committee and the FIFA Emergency Committee.
Michael J Garcia’s Curriculum Vitae (Source: FIFA)
• Partner in the New York office of Kirkland & Ellis LLP
• Formerly serving as the Senate-confirmed United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York, leading more than 250 lawyers in what is widely regarded as the premier U.S. Attorney’s office in the country. Direction of a broad range of prosecutions, including investigations into white collar fraud, international terrorism and national security matters
• Assistant Secretary for Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) at the Department of Homeland Security. As head of ICE, he oversaw an agency of 20,000 employees responsible for enforcing a broad range of criminal laws, including the Arms Export Control Act, the International Traffic in Arms Regulations and various money laundering statutes
• Former Vice President of the Americas for Interpol, the international police organization. While Vice President, he served on Interpol’s Executive Committee, the body charged with overseeing the budget and strategic direction of the organization
Hans-Joachim Eckert Curriculum Vitae (Source: FIFA)
• 30 years in justice
• 2003-present: Presiding Judge of the Penal Court Munich I, Germany (corruption, tax fraud, economic crime)
• 1999-2003: Senior Prosecutor, Prosecution Office Munich I, Germany, leader of a department of general crime and of economic crime, responsible for data protection and World War II crime, economic crime and organised crime
• 1998-1999: Senior Prosecutor, General Prosecutor’s Office Munich, Germany, responsible for supervision in different prosecution offices, money laundering, organised crime and international relationships
• 1991-1998: Prosecutor, Prosecution Office Munich II, Germany, leader of a group, responsible for tax crime, economic crime and organised crime
• 1985-1991: Judge, LG Munich I, Civil Court
• 1978-1985: first Judge at the LG Munich I Penal Court and subsequently Prosecutor at the Prosecution Office Munich II
Members of the investigatory chamber of the Ethics Committee until 63rd FIFA Congress
Chairman: Michael J Garcia
Mr Robert Torres (Guam)
Mr Les Murray (Australia)
Mr Ronald Jones (Barbados)
Mr Jorge Iván Palacio (Colombia)
Mr Noël Le Graët (France)
Mr Ahmed Ould Abderrahmane (Mauritania)
Members of the adjudicatory chamber of the Ethics Committee until the 63rd FIFA Congress
Chairman: Hans-Joachim Eckert
Mr Petrus Damaseb (Namibia)
Mr Juan Pedro Damiani (Uruguay)
Mr Burton K. Haimes (USA)
Mr Abdoulaye Mokhtar Diop (Senegal)
Mr Jack Kariko (Papua New Guinea)
Mr Yngve Hallén (Norway)
Mrs Thi My Dung Nguyen (Vietnam)
By INSIDER editor Mark Bisson
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