The Confederate Public Prosecutor’s Office is seeking a 1-year, 8-month suspended prison sentence for both Joseph Blatter and Michel Platini. The latter will also have to pay compensation of about 2.2 million francs. The two men are accused of swindling the football body by obtaining an unjustified payment of 2 million francs for the Frenchman.
Relentless on the “deception” of the defendants before the Bellinzona Federal Criminal Court, prosecutor Thomas Hildbrand nonetheless refrained from a firm sentence, while the former leaders, set on July 8, face in principle 5 years in prison. For five hours, he struggled to unravel the drawer case that shattered the ex-allies’ careers in 2015 when Platini, then UEFA president, appeared ideally placed to succeed Blatter at the helm. FIFA.
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“Only their behavior with regard to criminal law counts,” the prosecutor recalled at the outset, leaving out any political dimension to focus on the 2 million Swiss francs granted in 2011 by FIFA to Michel Platini, with the endorsement by Sepp Blatter.
Blatter, the “chameleon”
It does not matter, therefore, that this issue only resurfaced in 2015 and propelled the unexpected Gianni Infantino, the right arm of Michel Platini at UEFA, to the head of world football, targeted since 2020 by a separate procedure for three secret meetings with the prosecutor’s office. The 66-year-old Frenchman and the 86-year-old Swiss man were heard in court last Thursday, saying they had “orally” decided that Platini would receive 1 million Swiss francs a year to advise Blatter between 1998 and 2002, just after helping him gain access. at the head of FIFA.
But this agreement without witnesses, contrary to “commercial usage” and never provisioned in the organization’s accounts, was later invented to justify the bill presented in 2011 by the triple Ballon d’Or, Thomas Hildbrand replied on Wednesday. For him, Platini’s work was fully covered by an August 1999 contract of 300,000 Swiss francs a year, where the two men claim to have agreed to pay “the rest later” when the finances of FIFA would allow it.
Unlikely, the magistrate swept: even if the body had paid 1 million Swiss francs to Platini as early as 1999, it would still have “more than 21 million francs in cash”, reserves rising to 327 million in 2002. Or Sepp Blatter, who joined FIFA in 1975, “had a perfect knowledge” of his creditworthiness. “When a chameleon feels threatened, it changes color: Blatter does the same,” said Thomas Hildbrand, for whom “there is no reason why FIFA” should have deferred payment.
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The issue of mobile is still open
An additional inconsistency in the eyes of the public prosecutor’s office, Platini ended up claiming 500,000 francs a year for this period in early 2011, rather than 700,000, explaining afterwards that he had never verified the amount initially paid to him. “Did he lose his mathematical skills only at the time of the FIFA bill?” The magistrate pretended to question himself, recalling that the Frenchman had “passed a calculation test without any problems” during his interrogation.
Thomas Hildbrand also pointed out that Jérôme Valcke, FIFA’s secretary general in 2011, told investigators that Platini had first asked for 4 million francs, before setting a twice as high bill. “If you go from 4 to 2, it’s because there was a negotiation, an agreement between the parties,” the magistrate said, making that amount a “personal service” from Platini to Blatter.
But which one, when no motive is included in the indictment? The prosecutor cautiously mentioned the support of the Frenchman and the UEFA executive committee for the re-election of Blatter for a fourth term in late May 2011. “The question of whether this payment is related to the election must remain open. , in the absence of convincing evidence, ”acknowledged Thomas Hildbrand, leaving the shadow of corruption in the courtroom.
On the eve of the indictment, former FIFA Chief Financial Officer Markus Kattner was heard as a witness. The central question was whether he had drawn the attention of the Confederate Public Prosecutor’s Office (MPC) to the suspicious payment of 2 million francs to former UEFA President Michel Platini, as well as alleged former Attorney General of the Confederation and current Federal Criminal Judge Olivier Thormann in a testimony. A version that the former chief financial officer contradicted: he told the court that he remembered the payment in question, but that he had not specifically drawn the MPC’s attention to this point, as he had no reason to mention specific payments. He also said he was “convinced of the legitimacy of the payment” and did not feel that Sepp Blatter and Michel Platini were lying to him.
The trial, which began last Wednesday, is set to continue until June 22 with the pleadings of FIFA, the civil party, and then the defense.
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