Franz Beckenbauer and Wolfgang Niersbach are among four men who are facing criminal proceedings from the Attorney General of Switzerland (OAG) in relation to Germany’s successful 2006 World Cup bid.
Germany legend Beckenbauer, former DFB president Niersbach, Horst Rudolf Schmidt and Theo Zwanziger – who were all members of the executive board of the organising committee for the 2006 World Cup in Germany – are facing allegations of fraud, criminal mismanagement, money laundering and misappropriation.
The investigation, which follows the launch of a FIFA probe in March, centres on the financing of a gala event, in which it is claimed the suspects knew the funds were not used for the event, but to pay a debt not owed by the DFB.
“The Office of the Attorney General of Switzerland has opened criminal proceedings in connection with the German Football Association [DFB],” the OAG statement read.
“The suspects were members of the executive board of the organising committee for the 2006 World Cup in Germany.
“The proceedings relate in particular to allegations of fraud (Art. 146 Swiss Criminal Code (SCC)), criminal mismanagement (Art.158 SCC), money laundering (Art. 305bis SCC) and misappropriation (Art. 138 SCC).
“The suspects in the criminal proceedings are: Horst Rudolf Schmidt, Theo Zwanziger, Franz Beckenbauer, Wolfgang Niersbach.
“The four persons named were members of the executive board of the organising committee for the 2006 World Cup in Germany. The presumption of innocence applies to all four.
“The investigations focus on the joint financing of a gala event, initially at the cost €7million, later reduced to €6.7m.
“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.
“In particular, it is suspected that the suspects wilfully misled their fellow members of the executive board of the organising committee for the 2006 World Cup.
“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.”
In March, it was confirmed that a number of individuals – including Beckenbauer – were being investigated by FIFA amid allegations of corruption and bribery in relation to the bidding process for the 2006 World Cup.
It was claimed in a report from Der Spiegel last October that former Adidas chief executive Robert Louis-Dreyfus established a ‘slush fund’ to secure key votes for Germany’s bid.
An independent inquiry conducted by law firm Freshfields, and commissioned by the DFB, stated that the use of bribery to secure votes “could not be ruled out”.
Beckenbauer admitted he made a “mistake” during the process, but denied that votes were bought.
Niersbach was banned from all football activities by FIFA’s independent Ethics Committee over “misconduct concerning the awarding of the FIFA World Cup” for one year in July.
He had already resigned his post as DFB president in November after investigators conducted a search of the the governing body’s headquarters in Frankfurt, as well as Niersbach’s home, and those of predecessor Zwanziger and former general secretary Schmidt, amid allegations the organisation secured hosting rights for the World Cup by corrupt means.
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