Former FIFA president Sepp Blatter and fellow disgraced officials Jerome Valcke and Markus Kattner benefitted improperly from bonuses totalling a combined 79million Swiss francs (£55m) over the past five years, according to lawyers conducting an internal investigation at world football’s governing body.
Law firm Quinn Emanuel have released figures relating to a series of bonuses, incentives and salary increases enjoyed by Blatter, ex-secretary general Valcke and Kattner, the former deputy secretary general who also served as FIFA’s chief financial officer.
Quinn Emanuel believe two clauses in contract extensions granted to Valcke and Kattner in April 2011, shortly before Blatter’s successful campaign for re-election against Mohammed Bin Hamman, are contrary to mandatory Swiss law.
“The evidence appears to reveal a coordinated effort by three former top officials of FIFA to enrich themselves through annual salary increases, World Cup bonuses and other incentives totalling more than CHF 79 million – in just the last five years,” said Bill Burck, a partner with Quinn Emanuel.
A statement from FIFA read: “It is clear that the preliminary findings indicate that the payments and contracts warrant considerable further investigation.
“FIFA has shared this information with the Office of the Swiss Attorney General [OAG] and it will brief the U.S. Department of Justice on the matters as well.
“This is consistent with FIFA’s commitment to cooperate with the authorities and FIFA’s policy of zero tolerance for wrongdoing. FIFA will also refer the matter of these contracts and payments to the FIFA Ethics Committee for its review.”
Klaus Stoehlker, previously Blatter’s spokesperson, confirmed he was no longer representing the 80-year-old. He told Omnisport: “I’m no longer Blatter’s PR-consultant. The FIFA volcano is exploding.”
The OAG confirmed it conducted a search of FIFA’s Zurich headquarters on Thursday in relation to its ongoing investigation into corruption at world football’s governing body.
Blatter and Valcke are presently serving respective six- and 12-year bans from all football-related activity, handed down by FIFA’s independent ethics committee. Both men deny any wrongdoing.
Kattner was dismissed last month as a result of an internal FIFA investigation that “uncovered breaches of fiduciary responsibilities”.
Quinn Emanuel highlighted the eight-and-a-half-year contract extensions given to Valcke and Kattner as Blatter’s 2011 re-election campaign reached its conclusion.
Along with increases in basic salary and bonuses, the duo were granted severance terms guaranteeing them full payments of CHF17.5m and CHF9.8m respectively in the event of their employment being terminated – a likely consequence had Blatter failed to secure re-election.
This clause, along with an indemnification clause that would force FIFA to pay Valcke and Kattner’s legal fees and fines even in the event of them being found guilty of an offence, “appear to violate mandatory Swiss law” according to Quinn Emanuel.
Additionally, Blatter, Valcke and Kattner are alleged to have received a combined total of CHF23m in special bonuses four months after the 2010 World Cup in South Africa without any underlying contract provision.
Quinn Emanuel continues to further investigate the matter and also pointed towards CHF14m awarded to Valcke and Kattner for the 2014 World Cup in Brazil and provisions for a combined CHF15.5m at the 2018 World Cup in Russia.
A FIFA statement added: “The documents and evidence also raise serious questions about the way a series of problematic contract amendments in favour of Mr. Blatter, Mr. Kattner and Mr Valcke were approved.
“These amendments resulted in massive payouts – amounting to tens of millions of dollars – to the former FIFA officials in the form of salaries and bonuses between the years 2011 and 2015.
“In total, the new documents and evidence appear to reveal a coordinated effort by three former top officials of FIFA to enrich themselves through annual salary increases, World Cup bonuses, as well as undue severance payments.
“Additionally, these various contracts were often entered into by Messers Blatter, Valcke and Kattner on the very same day. And more importantly, these dates were very ominous.”