Football: Indictment filed in connection with the German Football Association (DFB)
Bern, 06.08.2019 - The Office of the Attorney General of Switzerland (OAG) has filed an indictment against three former officials of the non-profit German Football Association (DFB), Horst Rudolf Schmidt, Theo Zwanziger and Wolfgang Niersbach, and against the former Swiss FIFA official Urs Linsi. The accused are alleged to have fraudulently misled the members of a supervisory body of the DFB organising committee for the 2006 World Cup in Germany (OC WC 2006) in April 2005 about the true purpose of a payment of around EUR 6.7 mio.
The proceedings against Franz Beckenbauer, who has also been accused in connection with this matter, have been separated by the OAG in July 2019 and will be continued separately. A joint assessment would cause unnecessary delays in the proceedings against the other accused, because based on his current prognosis, Franz Beckenbauer is unable for health reasons to participate or to be questioned in the main hearing in the Federal Criminal Court (FCC).
By filing an indictment in the FCC, the OAG can conclude its investigations in a significant case in its football-related proceedings. In the indictment, the OAG alleges that the accused Horst Rudolf Schmidt, Theo Zwanziger and Urs Linsi jointly committed fraud (Art. 146 para. 1 Swiss Criminal Code [SCC]) and that the accused Wolfgang Niersbach was complicit in fraud (Art. 146 para. 1 SCC). The proceedings relating to allegations of money laundering (Art. 305bis SCC) have been abandoned in July 2019.
Acceptance of a personal loan of over CHF 10 mio by Franz Beckenbauer
The investigations have revealed that in summer 2002 Franz Beckenbauer accepted a loan of CHF 10 mio 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. At the time, Bin Hammam was a member of the FIFA Executive Committee and the FIFA Finance Committee. The exact purpose of the total payments of CHF 10 mio to Mohammed Bin Hammam could not have been 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. According to Franz Beckenbauer, the payment was requested by Mohammed Bin Hammam, respectively by the FIFA Finance Committee, in return for a discretionary grant of CHF 250 mio paid by FIFA to the OC WC 2006. Because the DFB did not want to provide the funds, Franz Beckenbauer accepted a personal loan to make the requested payment. The OC WC 2006 was given a binding assurance in May 2002 that the FIFA grant would be paid.
Repayment of the loan using DFB funds
In April 2005, the debt due by Franz Beckenbauer in respect of the personal loan was repaid: EUR 6.7 mio (the equivalent of the amount due in Swiss francs at exchange rate at the time) was first transferred from an account held by the DFB – respectively by the OC WC 2006 – to FIFA and on the same day transferred by FIFA as a simple ‘pass-though’ payment to a Swiss account held by Robert Louis-Dreyfus. The indictment filed by the OAG relates to this repayment by the accused of the loan made to Franz Beckenbauer.
In the period from 2003 to 2005, Franz Beckenbauer, Horst Rudolf Schmidt, Theo Zwanziger and Wolfgang Niersbach comprised the four-man presidential board of the OC WC 2006. At the time, Urs Linsi was the secretary general of FIFA and thus the primary contact partner for the presidential board of the OC WC 2006.
In the summer of 2003, Robert Louis-Dreyfus contacted the presidential board directly to request the repayment of the loan after Franz Beckenbauer had failed to meet a number of repayment deadlines. The accused were aware that their supervisory board, the Presidential Commission, which had to agree to any payment of this size, would not agree to the repayment of the loan using funds belonging to the DFB or the OC WC 2006. Nevertheless, in order to secure the repayment by the DFB or the OC WC 2006, the accused falsely claimed at a meeting with the supervisory board of the OC WC 2006 on 8 April 2005 that the payment to FIFA would be a contribution towards the joint funding by the DFB or the OC WC 2006 of the FIFA opening ceremony for the 2006 World Cup. In fact, the accused had already agreed at the time of the meeting that Urs Linsi would arrange for FIFA to transfer the sum directly to Robert Louis-Dreyfus in order to repay the personal loan made to Franz Beckenbauer.
Remarks in connection with the filing of the indictment
The parties to the proceedings still have the right to appeal against the decision to separate the proceedings against Franz Beckenbauer. At the same time, recusal requests are still pending before the FCC in connection with these criminal proceedings. Although the decisions made by the FCC in relation to this could potentially affect the proceedings, the OAG, having analysed the risks and weighed up the competing interests, and in view of the time limits in respect of the prosecution, which come into effect in April 2020, decided to file an indictment at this juncture.
The OAG will make its application at the hearing before the FCC. The presumption of innocence of the accused is guaranteed until the final judgment has been pronounced. A soon as the indictment is filed, the FCC alone is competent to provide any further information.
Address for enquiries
Communication Service of the Office of the Attorney General of Switzerland, T +41 58 464 32 40, firstname.lastname@example.org
Office of the Attorney General of Switzerland