PtG Article 23.06.2006

Jennings claims FIFA paid back bribes money to ISL

A Swiss court order prevents the public from knowing exactly which FIFA officials took bribes from the now bankrupt sports marketing company, ISL. But investigative reporter Andrew Jennings now claims to know who repaid a large amount of the bribes money to the insolvent ISL-estate: It was FIFA.

Andrew Jennings made the disclosure in the Panorama documentary: “The Beautiful Bung: Corruption and the World Cup” broadcast recently on BBC1.

Jenningshas obtained a copy of a judgement from a Swiss court which grants police investigator Thomas Hildebrand access to more ISL documents.

“The document finally tells us who repaid those bribes. It wasn’t the anonymous football officials who took the money in the first place – it was FIFA!” Jennings explained in the documentary.

According to the Panorama programme, the Swiss authorities are trying to find out whether FIFA was mainly channelling the money back on behalf of the guilty men to help conceal their identities, or if FIFA repaid the money so the bribe-takers could hang on their money.

Blatter denies bribery probe

FIFA’s president, Sepp Blatter, has not wanted to comment directly on Jennings’ allegations. On the Panorama programme he refuses to answer questions from the reporter, and in a later press statement (link diabled) he expresses dismay with the programme but does not deny the substance of the allegations, namely that FIFA repaid bribe money to the ISL estate.

Instead Sepp Blatter takes exception to the claim that the FIFA president or FIFA should be the subject of a bribery probe by the Swiss police.

“The fact is that in the past, FIFA was actually the victim of ISL irregularities. FIFA looks forward to the final proceedings in the Swiss courts, which it continues to support,” reads the press statement.

Documents will be published in autumn

Andrew Jennings is adamant that the allegations made on Panorama are true. On the BBC website he reassures a Panorama viewer that he has documentation for all of his claims:

”One problem in making this kind of programme is that sources are reluctant to allow documents out of their hands.

Be assured, every allegation was checked by top-class BBC lawyers. I stake my personal reputation on this programme. I've been doing this for 36 years and I'd hate to get anything wrong,” Jennings writes.

The reporter plans to publish many of the documents on his website in the autumn.

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