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January 21, 2021

Blatter and two others facing FIFA investigation over salaries

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Image: FIFA President Sepp Blatter (L) talks to FIFA Secretary General Jerome Valcke during a news conference after a meeting of the FIFA executive committee in Zurich March 21, 2014. REUTERS/Arnd Wiegmann/File Photo

By Brian Homewood

ZURICH (Reuters) – Former FIFA president Sepp Blatter and ex-secretary general Jerome Valcke, already banned from football for ethics violations, are facing a fresh investigation over the salaries and bonuses they received in office.

In a separate decision, former FIFA vice-president Jeffrey Webb was given a life ban from any soccer-related activity and fined one million Swiss francs ($1.02 million).

FIFA’s ethics committee said its investigators had opened formal proceedings against both Blatter and Valcke, along with former finance director Markus Kattner, for possible ethics violations which included bribery and corruption.

The suspected violations were “in the context of salaries and bonuses paid to Mr Blatter, Mr Valcke and Mr Kattner as well as other provisions included in the contracts of these three individuals,” it said.

They are also suspected of having breached rules on general conduct, loyalty, conflicts of interest and “offering and accepting gifts and other benefits.”

Valcke’s lawyer declined comment while Blatter and Kattner could not immediately be reached although they have previously denied wrongdoing.

Blatter has said his earnings were in line with top officials from professional sports leagues around the world.

Soccer’s global governing body is attempting to recover from the worst graft scandal in its history which has seen 42 people, including former FIFA executive committee members, indicted in the United States since May last year.

Criminal investigations are also under way in Switzerland, where FIFA has its headquarters.

Those 42 include Webb, ex-president of the confederation covering North and Central America and the Caribbean, who has pleaded guilty in the United States to offences linked to racketeering, fraud and money laundering.

FIFA’s ethics committee has conducted its own investigation into the Cayman Islander and announced on Friday that was guilty of breaking ethics violations, including bribery and corruption.

FIFA said in June that an internal investigation revealed that the three officials had received 79 million Swiss francs ($81 million) in compensation over five years, calling them “massive payouts”.

FIFA’s lawyers Quinn Emanuel, which conducted the investigation, said the evidence revealed a coordinated effort by the three to “enrich themselves through annual salary increases, World Cup bonuses and other incentives.”

Blatter, 80, who led FIFA from 1998 until 2015, has already been banned for eight years, later to reduced to six following an appeal.

The ban was imposed for ethics violations related to a payment of 2 million Swiss francs that FIFA made to then European soccer boss Michel Platini with Blatter’s approval in 2011 for work done a decade earlier.

He has appealed to sport’s highest tribunal, the Court of Arbitration for Sport, and is awaiting a verdict.

Valcke was fired in January and has since been banned for 12 years, reduced to 10 on appeal, for ethics violations which included using FIFA expenses for sightseeing trips and destruction of evidence.

Kattner, who took over as acting secretary general after Valcke’s dismissal, was fired by FIFA in May.

(This refiled version of the story adds dropped word in second paragraph, trims lead)

(Additional reporting by Nate Raymond in New York; Editing by Toby Chopra and Robin Pomeroy)

Copyright 2016 Thomson Reuters. Click for Restrictions.

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