GENEVA: Former FIFA president Sepp Blatter is now facing a bribery case.
The FIFA ethics committee said Friday it opened formal proceedings against Blatter, former secretary general Jerome Valcke and former finance director Markus Kattner over million-dollar payments in their contracts — some of which were approved by other senior FIFA officials.
FIFA revealed in June, after Kattner was fired, that the three men agreed to pay themselves bonuses worth tens of millions of dollars from World Cup profits.
Then, lawyers acting for FIFA described evidence suggesting "a coordinated effort by three former top officials of FIFA to enrich themselves."
Ethics prosecutors said their investigation relates to bribery and corruption, accepting gifts and conflicts of interest for all three men, plus a breach of confidentiality by Kattner.
The case involves "salaries and bonuses paid to Mr. Blatter, Mr. Valcke and Mr. Kattner as well as other provisions included in the contracts of these three individuals," the statement said.
Blatter received a 12 million Swiss franc ($12 million) bonus after the successful 2014 World Cup in Brazil and would have been due another 12 million Swiss francs for completing his 2015-19 presidential term, the contracts reveal.
Valcke was awarded a $10 million World Cup bonus for 2014 and was due $11 million from the 2018 tournament in Russia.
Kattner's contract was redrafted in May 2015, days after the U.S. and Swiss federal investigations were revealed by police raids on Zurich's Baur au Lac hotel. The contract was extended through 2023 with extra clauses guaranteeing termination pay and indemnification for legal fees and restitution claims.
"These two provisions appear to violate mandatory Swiss law," FIFA said in June.
Blatter and Valcke are already serving ethics bans and face criminal proceedings by Swiss federal prosecutors as part of a wider investigation of corruption implicating FIFA and leading soccer officials.
The 80-year-old Blatter is awaiting the verdict from a Court of Arbitration for Sport panel in his appeal against a six-year ban for conflict of interest. That case relates to a $2 million payment he authorized in 2011 for Michel Platini, the former UEFA president who also served as a FIFA vice president.
Valcke's 12-year ethics ban for various charges of financial misconduct and destroying evidence was later reduced to 10 years on appeal. The French former TV personality can pursue a further appeal at CAS.
All three men have previously denied wrongdoing.
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