Blatter, Platini face fraud trial

Fallen chiefs accused of misappropriation, criminal offences during their time at FIFA


AFP June 07, 2022

LAUSANNE:

Sepp Blatter and Michel Platini, once the chiefs of world and European football, face trial on Wednesday over a suspected fraudulent payment that shook the sport and torpedoed their time at the top.

Former FIFA president Blatter, 86, and Platini, 66, start a two-week trial at Switzerland's Federal Criminal Court in the southern city of Bellinzona, following a mammoth investigation that began in 2015 and lasted six years.

The pair are being tried over a two million Swiss franc ($2.08 million) payment in 2011 to Platini, who was then in charge of European football's governing body UEFA.

They are accused of having, to the detriment of FIFA, illegally obtained the payment, plus social security contributions of 229,126 francs, in favour of Platini.

The former French football great "submitted to FIFA in 2011 an allegedly fictitious invoice for a (alleged) debt still existing for his activity as an adviser for FIFA in the years 1998 to 2002," according to the court.

The defendants are both accused of fraud and forgery of a document. Blatter is accused of misappropriation and criminal mismanagement, while Platini is accused of participating in those offences.

The indictment was filed by the Office of the Attorney General of Switzerland (OAG).

The trial will conclude on June 22, with the three judges delivering their verdict on July 8.

The defendants could face up to five years' imprisonment or a fine.

Both FIFA and UEFA are headquartered in Switzerland, in Zurich and Nyon respectively.

Platini and retired Swiss football administrator Blatter were banned from the sport at the very moment when Platini seemed ideally-placed to succeed Blatter at the helm of world football's governing body.

The two allies became rivals as Platini grew impatient to take over, while Blatter's tenure was brought to a swift end by a separate 2015 FIFA corruption scandal investigated by the US Federal Bureau of Investigation.

In the Bellinzona trial, the defence and the prosecution agree on one point: Platini was employed as an adviser to Blatter between 1998 and 2002. They signed a contract in 1999 for an annual remuneration of 300,000 francs.

"The compensation agreed in accordance with this contract was invoiced by Platini on each occasion and paid in full by FIFA," said the OAG.

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