FIFA says three top officials enriched themselves with salary increases

Reuters News
Posted: Jun 03, 2016 9:21 AM

By Brian Homewood

ZURICH (Reuters) - Former FIFA president Sepp Blatter and two other leading officials were involved in a "coordinated attempt" to enrich themselves through annual salary increases and World Cup bonuses, world soccer's governing body said on Friday.

FIFA said an internal investigation revealed that the three officials had received 79 million Swiss francs ($80 million) in compensation over five years.

FIFA is attempting to recover from the worst graft scandal in its history in which 42 people, including former FIFA executive committee members, and entities have been indicted in the United States. Gianni Infantino was elected as president in February and promised to lead the FIFA into calmer waters.

The ruling body said it had shared the information about salaries with the Swiss Attorney General's office and the U.S. Department of Justice and would continue to investigate.

Blatter did not wish to comment on the allegations, his spokesman said. The other officials, former secretary general Jerome Valcke and former finance director and deputy secretary general Markus Kattner, could not immediately be reached for comment.

FIFA said the investigation, conducted by its lawyers Quinn Emanuel, had revealed "evidence of breaches of fiduciary duty".

The findings were preliminary and warranted further investigation, it said.

"The evidence appears to reveal a coordinated effort by three former top officials of FIFA to enrich themselves through annual salary increases, World Cup bonuses and other incentives," said Bill Burck, a partner with Quinn Emanuel.

FIFA said that before 2013 the people who signed the contracts were "in principle" also the ones who approved them.

"They had the authority they needed, and they simply told payroll and HR (human resources), the department generally in charge for employment contracts at FIFA and which reported to Mr Kattner, how much should be paid out and to whom," said the report.

There were also questions over the compensation sub-committee which oversaw officials' compensation from 2013 onwards, the report said.

Blatter was banned for eight years, later reduced to six, by FIFA's ethics committee in December and Valcke has been banned for 12 years. Kattner was fired by FIFA on May 23.

(Editing by Ed Osmond)