One year and eight months suspended prison sentence against Michel Platini and Sepp Blatter. The Swiss prosecution has announced its requisitions against the two men, accused of having defrauded FIFA, the world football body, by obtaining an unjustified payment.
Relentless on the “deception” lent to the defendants, prosecutor Thomas Hildbrand nevertheless refrained from demanding a firm sentence. In principle, the former leaders – fixed on their fate on July 8 – incur five years of imprisonment.
For five hours, before the Federal Criminal Court of Bellinzona (South-East), the prosecutor tried to untangle the case with drawers which broke the career of the former allies in 2015 when Platini, then president of the UEFA, seemed ideally placed to succeed Blatter at the head of FIFA.
“Only their behavior under criminal law matters”, recalled Mr. Hildbrand from the outset. Leaving any political dimension out of the picture, he focused on the 2 million Swiss francs (1.8 million euros) granted in 2011 by FIFA to Michel Platini, with the approval of Sepp Blatter. It does not matter therefore that this file only resurfaced in 2015 and propelled to the head of world football the unexpected Gianni Infantino, right arm of Michel Platini at UEFA, targeted since 2020 by a separate procedure for three secret meetings with the floor.
Blatter the “Chameleon”
Heard last Thursday by the court, the 66-year-old Frenchman and the 86-year-old Swiss ensure have “orally” decided that Platini would receive 1 million Swiss francs a year advising Blatter between 1998 and 2002, shortly after helping him to become the head of FIFA.
But this agreement concluded without witnesses, contrary “for commercial purposes” and never provisioned in the organization’s accounts, was invented after the fact to justify the invoice presented in 2011 by the triple Ballon d’Or, prosecutor Thomas Hildbrand replied on Wednesday.
For him, Platini’s work was fully covered by an August 1999 contract providing for 300,000 Swiss francs a year, where the two men claim to have agreed to pay “the rest later”, when FIFA finances permitted. Incredible, swept the magistrate: even if the authority had paid 1 million Swiss francs to Platini in 1999, it would still have had “more than 21 million francs in cash”reserves increased to 327 million in 2002.
But Sepp Blatter, who joined FIFA in 1975, “had perfect knowledge” of its solvency. “When a chameleon feels threatened, it changes color: Blatter does the same”launched Thomas Hildbrand, for whom “there is no reason why FIFA” should have deferred payment.
The Shadow of Corruption
Further inconsistency in the eyes of the prosecution, Platini ended up claiming at the beginning of 2011 500,000 annual francs for this period, rather than 700,000, explaining afterwards that he had never checked the sum which had been initially paid to him.
“Was it only when he was invoiced to FIFA that he would have lost his mathematical abilities? »pretended to wonder the magistrate, recalling that the Frenchman had “Passed a math test without a problem” during his interrogation.
Thomas Hildbrand also pointed out that Jérôme Valcke, Secretary General of FIFA in 2011, had told investigators that Platini had first asked for 4 million francsbefore issuing a bill half the amount. “If you go from 4 to 2, it means that there has been negotiation, agreement between the parties”advanced the magistrate, making this sum the consideration “personal service” from Platini to Blatter. But which one, when no motive appears in the indictment?
Carefully, the prosecutor mentioned the support of the Frenchman and the executive committee of UEFA for the re-election of Blatter to a fourth term, at the end of May 2011. “The question of whether this payment is in connection with the election must remain open, in the absence of convincing evidence”acknowledged Thomas Hildbrand, leaving the shadow of corruption hanging over the courtroom.
Started last Wednesday, the trial should continue until June 22 with the pleadings of FIFA, civil party, then of the defense.