Swiss probe Beckenbauer, ex-DFB officials over World Cup payment

Berlin, Sept.2,
(GNA/dpa) – Swiss prosecuting authorities have opened criminal proceedings
against football great Franz Beckenbauer and former senior German football
federation officials in connection with a payment made around the 2006 World
Cup in Germany.

The investigation
relates to allegations of fraud, criminal mismanagement, money laundering and
misappropriation, a statement from the Office of the Attorney General of
Switzerland said.

Searches were
carried out Thursday in eight separate locations in close cooperation with
authorities in Austria and Germany. In addition “various suspects were
questioned by or on behalf of the Office of the Attorney General of
Switzerland,” a statement said.

The criminal
proceedings were opened on November 6, 2015 into Beckenbauer, who was head of
the German 2006 World Cup organizing committee, former German federation DFB
presidents Wolfgang Niersbach and Theo Zwanziger, and Horst R Schmidt, the
DFB’s former general secretary. All were members of the executive board of the
organizing committee.

The investigations
focus on a payment to football world governing body FIFA of 6.7 million euros
(7.45 million dollars) for a World Cup gala event which never took place.

It is believed the
money was a repayment to the late former Adidas boss Robert Louis-Dreyfus, who
had transferred the sum of 10 million Swiss francs to the account of a Swiss
law firm several years earlier.

“It is
suspected that the suspects knew that this sum was not being used to fund the
gala event, but instead to repay a debt that was not owed by the DFB,” the
attorney general’s office statement said.

particular, it is suspected that the suspects wilfully misled their fellow
members of the executive board of the organising committee for the 2006 World

“This was
presumably done by the use of false pretences or concealment of the truth, thus
inducing the other committee members to act in a manner that caused DFB a
financial loss.”

Beckenbauer, a
former World Cup-winning player and coach, has been the focus of the affair
around the payments connected to the 2006 World Cup, and which led to the
resignation last year of Niersbach as DFB president.

Law firm
Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer, hired by the DFB to investigate, reported in
March it found no evidence of vote-buying, but outlined new unclear payments
including from an account held by Beckenbauer.

There was no
immediate reaction from Beckenbauer or his management to the Swiss
investigation, while Zwanziger told dpa the allegations had “no

Following the
Freshfields report, Beckenbauer, 70, denied any wrongdoing. He told Germany’s
Bild am Sonntag newspaper he had only discovered as a result of the law firm’s
investigation that money from an account he held with his former manager went
to a firm in Qatar owned by the banned former FIFA executive Mohammed Bin

Beckenbauer has
said he understood the money – totalling 10 million Swiss francs – was to be a
pre-payment to FIFA to secure a grant of 250 million Swiss francs for the World

He also said he had
no doubts about the integrity at the time of Bin Hammam, who was deputy
chairman of the FIFA finance committee but has since been banned from football
for life.

In November, German
prosecuting authorities in Frankfurt opened an investigation on “suspicion
of tax evasion in a particularly severe case” into Niersbach, Zwanziger
and Schmidt into the payments linked to the 2006 World Cup. However Beckenbauer
was not a subject of the investigation, a prosecution spokeswoman said at the

In July, FIFA’s
ethics committee banned council member Niersbach for one year from
football-related activities in connection with the awarding of the 2006 World
Cup to Germany. The ethics committee had in March opened an investigation into
the awarding of the 2006 tournament, probing six officials including
Beckenbauer, Niersbach and Zwanziger.


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