Swiss expand probe of ex-Fifa president Blatter

Sepp Blatter was previously investigated for selling TV rights allegedly below market value. (AP pic)

GENEVA: Swiss prosecutors have opened a fresh investigation targeting former Fifa chief Sepp Blatter for suspected criminal mismanagement of funds over a decade-old US$1 million payment, AFP learned Saturday.

The probe, opened last month, is connected with a loan Fifa gave to the Trinidad and Tobago Football Association (TTFF) in 2010, which was given interest-free, with no collateral, and was quickly forgiven as a “subsidy”, a document seen by AFP showed.

This marks the latest in a string of allegations of improper Fifa-linked payments to Trinidad’s long-serving Fifa official Jack Warner, who has been banned from football for life and is battling extradition to the US from his native Trinidad.

The Swiss Office of the Attorney General (OAG) confirmed in a statement that it had in May this year “extended the criminal proceedings” against the former Fifa president.

It added that two other former high-level Fifa officials, former secretary-general Jerome Valcke and ex-Fifa financial director Markus Kattner, were also targeted.

An OAG spokesperson meanwhile told AFP in an email that this was “not a new criminal proceeding against Joseph Blatter, it is in addition to the overall criminal proceedings against Joseph Blatter”.

The 84-year-old former Fifa chief himself told AFP that he had been “informed of the accusation, and I totally reject its content”.

The news of the fresh leg of the probe comes after the OAG last month shelved part of the procedure opened against Blatter in 2015 on “suspicion of unfair management and breach of trust”.

It closed part of the investigation against him involving TV rights sold allegedly below market value to the Caribbean Football Union (CFU), at the time headed by Warner.

OAG stressed Saturday that other aspects of the criminal proceedings “are not affected by the decision to discontinue” the TV rights part of the probe.

“The criminal proceedings against the accused will continue,” the OAG statement said.

Swiss prosecutors have already made clear that another investigation, into a payment of two million Swiss francs to Michel Platini, the former Uefa president and Fifa executive committee member, was ongoing.

Blatter’s payment to Platini led to both men being banned from football, although the Frenchman was cleared by the Swiss courts in 2018.