Swiss probe Al-Khelaifi and Valcke over graft
>> GENEVA: Swiss prosecutors have opened a criminal corruption probe targeting the head of Paris Saint-Germain football club Nasser Al-Khelaifi and disgraced former Fifa executive Jerome Valcke over the sale of media rights for upcoming World Cups.
The Swiss attorney general’s office (OAG) said the probe opened in March and centres on allegations including bribery, fraud, criminal mismanagement and forgery of a document.
Prosecutors indicated that Al-Khelaifi, a powerful Qatari sports executive who is also head of BEIN media, was under suspicion only for actions taken as the head of the sports media group, which operates on five continents.
The Qatar broadcaster issued a statement denying any wrongdoing while confirming French authorities had raided the company’s Paris offices following a Swiss request.
“be IN Media Group refutes all accusations made by OAG. The company will fully cooperate with the authorities and is confident as to the future developments of this investigation,” it said in a statement.
PSG, who grabbed headlines in August for their record signing of Brazilian superstar Neymar, are not implicated in the investigation.
Valcke, who was Sepp Blatter’s right-hand man at Fifa, denied the allegations in an interview with French sports newspaper L’Equipe yesterday.
“They say there have been payments from Nasser to me in return for the sale of rights at a preferential rate. But I’ve received nothing from Nasser”, he told the paper.
“There has never been an exchange between Nasser and me. Never.” Valcke left the Swiss attorney general’s office on Thursday evening after being interviewed as a suspect and “disputes all the allegations”, his lawyer told AFP.
“He came out free, there is no coercive measure against him nor any bail payment,” Stephane Ceccaldi said.
The OAG said there was a third suspect in the case but identified him only as “a businessman in the sports rights sector”.