Tuesday, October 20, 2020

Fifa bans ex-finance director Kattner over illegal enrichment of top officials

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The adjudicatory chamber of the Fifa’s Ethics Committee has found Markus Kattner, world football’s governing body’s former finance director, guilty of conflicts of interest and having abused his position in helping award former president Sepp Blatter and other top officials tens of millions of Swiss francs in bonuses and salary increases.

Kattner, who was also previously deputy secretary general and acting secretary general at Fifa, proved to be one of the main persons of interest as the Fifa corruption scandal first emerged in 2015 and he has now been banned from all football-related activity for a period of 10 years, along with being handed a fine of CHF1m (€940,000/$1.05m).

The Ethics Committee investigation into Kattner covered various charges concerning bonus payments in relation to Fifa competitions that were paid to top Fifa officials, including Kattner himself, various amendments to and extensions of employment contracts, reimbursement of private legal costs, and Kattner’s duties as an official.

In its decision, the adjudicatory chamber ruled that Kattner had breached articles of its Code of Ethics relating to conflicts of interest and abuse of position.

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Fifa ethics investigators formally opened an investigation against Kattner, along with Blatter and former secretary general Jérôme Valcke, back in September 2016. No judgements against the latter two men were announced yesterday (Tuesday), with Blatter and Valcke currently serving Fifa-imposed bans of six and 10 years, respectively, along with being the subject of Swiss criminal proceedings.

Kattner was recently made a criminal suspect by Swiss federal prosecutors probing Fifa’s finances during the Blatter tenure after a long-running criminal proceeding against Blatter was extended to include Kattner and Valcke.

In June 2016, lawyers acting on behalf of Fifa said Blatter, Valcke and Kattner awarded themselves pay rises and bonuses totalling nearly CHF80m over five years. Quinn Emanuel, the lawyers conducting the internal investigation into allegations of wrongdoing at Fifa, made the announcement a day after Swiss police raided Fifa offices.

Quinn Emanuel said that Blatter, Valcke and Kattner received CHF23m in special bonuses, awarded retroactively, for the 2010 World Cup in South Africa, “apparently without an underlying contract provision stipulating such bonuses”.

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It was also claimed that, in October 2011, Valcke and Kattner were awarded a combined CHF14m in bonuses for the 2014 World Cup in Brazil, and in June 2014 they were made eligible for a combined CHF15.5m in bonuses for the 2018 World Cup in Russia.

In the final report published yesterday, the Ethics Committee said Kattner received various bonuses, together with the most senior members of Fifa leadership/management, in the period 2010 to 2014. On December 1, 2010, the existing employment contracts of Kattner, at the time Fifa deputy secretary general and director of finance and administration, as well as Blatter and Valcke were amended.

The report said the respective amendments to the agreements provided “extraordinary bonuses”, related to services the aforementioned three officials performed in connection with the 2010 World Cup, which would be paid over a span of four years in four equal instalments in December 2010, 2011, 2012 and 2013.

The report said a new series of amendment agreements, similar to the previous ones, were signed by the three men on October 19, 2011, including extraordinary bonuses in connection with the 2013 Confederations Cup and 2014 World Cup in Brazil for the following amounts: CHF12m (Blatter); CHF10m (Valcke); and CHF4m (Kattner).

On June 10, 2014, Valcke and Kattner were found to have entered into additional amendment agreements in connection with bonus payments for the 2017 Confederations Cup and 2018 World Cup in Russia.

Fifa sacked Kattner in May 2016 after claiming that he had breached financial rules. Kattner became deputy secretary general in 2007 and stepped in as Fifa’s acting secretary general from September 2015 until earlier in May 2016, replacing Valcke. He originally joined Fifa as director of finance in 2003.

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