A “criminal mismanagement” complaint has been issued by Fifa to state prosecutors against disgraced former president Sepp Blatter and other management figures for allegedly costing the governing body “half a billion Swiss Francs that could and should have been channelled into the development of global football.”
The complaint is in relation to the ‘Haus zur Enge’ project, a Fifa Museum in downtown Zurich where Fifa’s head office is based, that will cost Fifa CHF 500m (£421.3m) by 2045.
According to Fifa, Blatter gave the go-ahead for the project that involved CF 140m (£118m) in “renovating and refurbishing a building that the organisation does not own” and a further CHF 360m in a long-term rental agreement that does not expire for another 24 years – a deal that Fifa claim was signed on “unfavourable terms when compared to standard market rates”.
The complaint has been filed against Blatter, his former management team and companies who were appointed on their behalf, and stemmed from a financial audit of the deal triggered by the 2015 corruption scandal that exposed widespread bribery across the governing body.
“Given the massive costs associated with this Museum, as well as the general way of working of the previous Fifa management, a forensic audit was conducted in order to find out what really happened here,” said Fifa Deputy Secretary General (Administration) Alasdair Bell.
“That audit revealed a wide range of suspicious circumstances and management failures, some of which may be criminal in nature and which therefore need to be properly investigated by the relevant authorities. We came to the conclusion that we had no choice other than to report the case to state prosecutors, not least because the current management of Fifa also has fiduciary responsibilities to the organisation and we intend to live up to them, even if those before us dismally failed to.”
The Haus zur Enge building features Fifa’s Global Museum on the first three floors of the 10-story building, which was renovated after Blatter announced to the Fifa Executive Committee in 2012 of his plans to invest in the historic property. As part of the deal, Fifa agreed a 40-year lease with Swiss Life, with construction completed on its renovation in December 2015 – shortly after Blatter was ousted as the head of international football following the corruption scandal. The remaining seven floors feature exhibition space, events and dining areas, 34 luxury apartments and office space for approximately 140 workstations.
The Museum was subsequently opened on 28 February 2016 by current Fifa president Gianni Infantino, who is currently the subject of legal proceedings in a separate Swiss investigation.
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