GENEVA (AP) — FIFA banned its former finance director Markus Kattner for 10 years on Tuesday for helping former president Sepp Blatter and other top managers award themselves salary raises and bonuses totaling tens of millions of dollars.
FIFA said its ethics committee judges found Kattner guilty of conflicts of interest and abuse of position, including obtaining a recording of a FIFA Council meeting from which he had been excluded.
Kattner was also fined 1 million Swiss francs ($1.05 million) and ordered to pay within 30 days.
“By his conduct, the integrity and objectivity of FIFA have therefore been exceedingly violated,” FIFA’s ethics judges said in their ruling.
Kattner spent 13 years overseeing the world soccer body’s finances during Blatter's presidency. When he was fired by FIFA’s new management in 2016, it was revealed that Blatter, former secretary general Jerome Valcke and Kattner himself were contracted to get World Cup bonuses, loyalty bonuses and future golden handshakes totaling tens of millions of dollars.
Lawyers for FIFA four years ago described “a coordinated effort by three former top officials of FIFA to enrich themselves.”
At the time, a spokesperson for Kattner said the contracts were approved by FIFA’s compensation panel and known to its then-auditors.
When Blatter and Valcke were suspended from duty in 2015, Kattner was promoted to be FIFA’s interim secretary general — a role he continued to hold for three more months after the election of current president Gianni Infantino.
FIFA ethics investigators formally opened an investigation of the three men in September 2016.
No judgment against Blatter or Valcke was announced Tuesday. They are currently serving FIFA-imposed bans of six and 10 years, respectively, and are the subject of Swiss criminal proceedings.
Lawyers for Kattner argued in the FIFA ethics process his case was “prioritized, as only Mr. Kattner is pursuing employment tribunal proceedings against FIFA.” He has declined to comment while that case is ongoing.
Kattner’s ban from soccer comes weeks after he too was made a criminal suspect by Swiss federal prosecutors investigating FIFA’s finances during the Blatter presidency.
The 49-year-old German is now classed as an accused person in Switzerland after a long-standing criminal proceeding against Blatter was extended to include himself and his former boss Valcke.
The latest allegation, reported by The Associated Press three weeks ago, relates to a $1-million loan FIFA made to the Trinidad and Tobago soccer federation in April 2010.
The interest-free, unsecured loan from soccer funds was paid into the control of FIFA’s then-vice president Jack Warner — while he was a candidate during the Caribbean nation’s general election — and later waived as a gift.
FIFA lawyers said that in April 2011, during a difficult presidential election campaign Blatter went on to win, Valcke and Kattner signed eight-year contract extensions with guarantees of termination pay and indemnification for legal fees and restitution claims.
At the time in 2011, U.S. federal agencies were building an investigation that would throw FIFA into turmoil and remove a swath of top officials in Zurich, North America and South America.
In the ongoing American investigation, more than 40 people and marketing agencies have been indicted, convicted at trial or made guilty pleas.
The first trial in Switzerland, at a court affected by the coronavirus pandemic, collapsed in April when a statute of limitations expired. It involved an irregular payment from German organizers of the 2006 World Cup passing through a FIFA account.
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