Sepp Blatter, Platini charged with fraud in Switzerland
GENEVA (AP) – Former FIFA officials Sepp Blatter and Michel Platini were charged with fraud and other criminal offenses by the Swiss public prosecutor’s office on Tuesday after a controversial payment of $ 2 million had been investigated for six years.
The 85-year-old Blatter and the 65-year-old Platini now have to answer before the Federal Criminal Court in Bellinzona within a few months.
“This payment damaged FIFA’s assets and unlawfully enriched Platini,” said a statement from the Swiss Federal Prosecutor’s Office.
The September 2015 case prematurely ousted Blatter as FIFA President and put an end to then-UEFA President Platini’s campaign to succeed his former mentor.
Swiss cases often take years to come to a conclusion.
The case revolves around Platini’s written request to FIFA in January 2011 to retrospectively pay an additional salary for his work as presidential advisor in Blatter’s first term from 1998 to 2002.
Blatter authorized FIFA to make the payment within weeks. He was preparing an election campaign against Mohamed bin Hammam from Qatar, in which Platini’s influence among European voters was a key factor.
Both Blatter and Platini have long denied wrongdoing, citing an oral agreement they made more than 20 years ago to pay out the money.
Blatter faces charges of fraud, mismanagement, misappropriation of FIFA funds and forgery of documents. Platini has been charged with fraud, embezzlement, forgery and as an accomplice to Blatter’s alleged mismanagement.
Platini, a French soccer star, was only officially investigated last year, and months later the more serious fraud allegation against both men was recorded.
In September 2015, ahead of a police raid on FIFA headquarters in Zurich, the public prosecutor’s office initiated criminal proceedings against Blatter, on the day he and Platini attended a meeting of the football association’s executive committee.
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