Swiss prosecutors file charges against ex-DFB officials

The Swiss Attorney General’s (OAG) office has confirmed that charges have been filed by prosecutors in the country against three former German Football Association (DFB) executives in relation to a payment linked with the 2006 Fifa World Cup, which was hosted by Germany.

Prosecutors claim that ex-DFB presidents Theo Zwanziger and Wolfgang Niersbach, as well as former senior official Horst Schmidt, fraudulently misled members of the supervisory body of the tournament’s organising committee in April 2005 about the true purpose of a €6.7m (£6.2m/$7.5m) payment.

In the indictment, the OAG alleges that Schmidt, Zwanziger and Swiss former Fifa official Urs Linsi jointly committed fraud, while Niersbach was complicit in fraud. The four men have denied any wrongdoing.

The OAG added that allegations of money laundering have been dropped, while proceedings against German football great Franz Beckenbauer, who chaired the tournament’s organising committee, will continue separately as his poor health had made it impossible to question him fully.

A DFB-commissioned investigation concluded three years ago that the payment represented the return of a loan via Fifa from former adidas chief executive Robert Louis-Dreyfus, who died 10 years ago. In October, a German court ruled that there was insufficient evidence to bring the officials involved to trial for alleged tax evasion.

“The investigations have revealed that in summer 2002 Franz Beckenbauer accepted a loan of 10 million Swiss francs in his own name and for his own account from Robert Louis-Dreyfus. This sum was used to fund various payments made via a Swiss law firm to a Qatari company belonging to Mohammed Bin Hammam,” the OAG said.

“The exact purpose of the total payments of 10 million Swiss francs to Mohammed Bin Hammam could not be determined – also because a corresponding request for mutual legal assistance made by the OAG to the Qatari authorities in September 2016 remained unanswered until today.”

Bin Hammam was a member of the Fifa Executive Committee at the time.

In October 2015, allegations emerged in the German magazine Der Spiegel that a slush fund had been set up to bribe Fifa officials in order to secure votes for Germany’s bid for the World Cup.

Germany edged out South Africa by 12 votes to 11 after Oceania representative Charlie Dempsey, who had initially backed England, abstained in the final round.