Prosecutors are hunting for “solid proof” of tax evasion at the German Football Federation (DFB) following a raid on its offices on Tuesday.
Claims of corruption regarding the 2006 World Cup took a fresh twist when investigators searched the premises of the DFB headquarters in Frankfurt, and the home of its president Wolfgang Niersbach, his predecessor Theo Zwanziger and former general secretary Horst Schmidt.
Investigators are looking into claims that a tax-reducing arrangement was used to make a €6.7million payment to FIFA in the build-up to the global showpiece.
“The prosecution Frankfurt am Main has started investigations following the suspicions of fiscal evasions … connected to the €6.7million payment of the organisational committee of the DFB to the global football association FIFA, in the run-up to the World Cup 2006,” a statement from prosecutors’ office read.
“The accusations are pointed at the president of the DFB and former vice-president of the organisational committee, the president of the DFB in the year 2006 and treasurer of the organisational committee at that time as well as the former general secretary of the DFB.
“The defendants are being accused [of filing] an inaccurate tax declaration, while being in management responsibilities at that time. Corporate and commercial taxes as well as the solidarity taxes for the year 2006 have been cut by a substantial amount.
“By the current level of knowledge, the organisational committee is accused of using tax-reducing arrangements for a payment of €6.7million in the spring of 2005, which they got granted as a cultural program for the purpose of the World Cup 2006. They declared the payment as business expense, to get tax reduction, while it was used for a different purpose. A purpose which does not count as a business expense and does not provide said tax reduction.
“By a request of the prosecution the investigating judge in Frankfurt am Main has granted search warrants for the business premises of the DFB as well as the private homes of the accused, which were carried out by 50 officials of the tax investigation-Frankfurt as well as the priority prosecution for Economic Affairs in Frankfurt am Main.”
An investigation spokesperson added: “We are searching for any solid proof, which supports the suspicion of fiscal evasions.”
The raids followed news last month that FIFA’s Ethics Committee was investigating Franz Beckenbauer, who fronted the country’s organising committee for the World Cup.
Beckenbauer confirmed that a payment had been made to FIFA while the bidding process was ongoing, but stated that was in return for a financial grant and described it as a “mistake”.
According to the prosecutors’ statement, allegations of “embezzlement and bribery” have not been “further investigated due to limitation of legal proceedings (lapse of time)”.