Former DFB officials indicted over 2006 World Cup payment

By Ryan Benson 6 August 2019 15
Former DFB officials indicted over 2006 World Cup payment

Five former football officials have been indicted by the Office of the General Attorney of Switzerland (OAG) on charges of fraudulently misleading the organising committee for the 2006 World Cup.

Ex-German Football Association (DFB) officials Wolfgang Niersbach, Theo Zwanziger and Horst Rudolf Schmidt, along with former FIFA secretary general Urs Linsi, are alleged by Swiss prosecutors "to have fraudulently misled the members of a supervisory body of the DFB organising committee for the 2006 World Cup in Germany (OC WC 2006) in April 2005 about the true purpose of a payment of around €6.7million".

Zwanziger, Schmidt and Linsi are accused of committing fraud, in which Niersbach is alleged to have been complicit. All four have denied the claims.

Fraud proceedings against former Germany star Franz Beckenbauer, who was also implicated, will be separate due to his inability to be questioned for health reasons.

Proceedings relating to alleged money laundering were abandoned last month, the OAG said.

The OAG claims Beckenbauer – part of the 2006 organising committee's presidential board with Niersbach, Zwanziger and Schmidt – received a loan of €10m into his personal account from Adidas CEO Robert Louis-Dreyfus in 2002.

According to the OAG, this sum was then "used to fund various payments" to a Qatari company belonging to Mohammed Bin Hammam, the former president of the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) who was banned for life from football by FIFA in 2012 due to conflicts of interest.

The OAG was unable to determine the purpose of the payments to Bin Hammam – at the time a member of FIFA's Executive Committee and Finance Committee.

The OAG's statement continued: "In April 2005, the debt due by Franz Beckenbauer in respect of the personal loan was repaid: €6.7m (the equivalent of the amount due in Swiss francs at exchange rate at the time) was first transferred from an account held by the DFB – respectively by the OC WC 2006 – to FIFA and on the same day transferred by FIFA as a simple 'pass-though' payment to a Swiss account held by Robert Louis-Dreyfus. The indictment filed by the OAG relates to this repayment by the accused of the loan made to Franz Beckenbauer.

"In the summer of 2003, Robert Louis-Dreyfus contacted the presidential board directly to request the repayment of the loan after Franz Beckenbauer had failed to meet a number of repayment deadlines.

"The accused were aware that their supervisory board, the Presidential Commission, which had to agree to any payment of this size, would not agree to the repayment of the loan using funds belonging to the DFB or the OC WC 2006.

"Nevertheless, in order to secure the repayment by the DFB or the OC WC 2006, the accused falsely claimed at a meeting with the supervisory board of the OC WC 2006 on April 8, 2005 that the payment to FIFA would be a contribution towards the joint funding by the DFB or the OC WC 2006 of the FIFA opening ceremony for the 2006 World Cup.

"In fact, the accused had already agreed at the time of the meeting that Urs Linsi would arrange for FIFA to transfer the sum directly to Robert Louis-Dreyfus in order to repay the personal loan made to Franz Beckenbauer."

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Ryan Benson