Criminal proceedings commenced against Sepp Blatter, President of FIFA in Switzerland

The Attorney General of Switzerland (OAG) has confirmed the opening of criminal proceedings against the Sepp Blatter, the President of FIFA.

Mr Blatter was questioned, and his office and FIFA headquarters were searched on 25th September 2015. Data was seized. The suspicions relate to criminal mismanagement and suspicion of mismanagement.

The Attorney has provided particulars of two suspicions:

  • The OAG suspects that on 12 September 2005 Mr Joseph (Sepp) Blatter signed a contract with the Caribbean Football Union (with Jack Warner as the President at this time), which was unfavorable for FIFA. There is also a suspicion that, in the implementation of this agreement, Mr Blatter violated his fiduciary duties and acted against the interest of FIFA and/or FIFA Marketing & TV AG.
  • Additionally, Mr Blatter is suspected of a disloyal payment of CHF 2 Mio. to Michel Platini, President of Union of European Football Associations (UEFA), at the expense of FIFA, which was allegedly made for work performed between January 1999 and June 2002. This payment was executed in February 2011.

In addition, the OAG asked Mr Michel Platini, the President of UEFA, to provide information subject to Article 178 of the Swiss Code of Criminal Procedure.

The earlier investigations in relation to FIFA were covered in an earlier blog. In May, seven FIFA officials were arrested in Geneva, and currently face extradition proceedings to the USA.

The questioning of Mr Blatter is a significant development in the FIFA investigation. The UK’s Serious Fraud Office released a statement in May 2015 that “The SFO continues actively to assess material in its possession and has made plain that it stands ready to assist continuing international criminal investigations”. No doubt today’s developments will lead to further comment from the SFO.

Practical Law David Bacon

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