PtG Article 02.06.2006

Mysterious repayment of bribes

In 2003, the liquidator of ISL discovered that sports officials including FIFA officials had reeceved bribes from the company and demanded that they were paid back to the insolvent estate. A large sum of money was repaid but a court order from the Swiss Federal High Court prevents details of the deal from being handed over to the investigating magistrate.

After reconstructing ISL's cash flow, Thomas Bauer - the Swiss liquidator of the bankrupt sports marketing agency, International Sport and Leisure (ISL) - made a discovery. He found a number of unlawful transfers of money to several football official and among them were high-ranking FIFA-officials.

In May 2003, Thomas Bauer submitted civil charges against the officials in a court in Zug and demanded that 3,5 million Swiss francs were returned to the insolvent estate after ISL.

Nine months later - in February 2004 - an amount of 2,5 mio. Swiss francs was transferred into a special account named ‘Escrow Number 1/Weber’ in a Zurich bank. Shortly after that Thomas Bauer withdrew the civil complaints.

In the meantime a bizarre chain of events had taken place.

To prevent the situation from getting out of hand and lead to disclosure of a network of dishonest football officials, senior

ISL official Jean-Marie Weber assisted by the Swiss defence lawyer and FIFA President Sepp Blatter's personal adviser, Prof. Peter Nobel, had agreed with the ISL-liquidator on repayment of a reduced amount – corresponding to the abovementioned 2,5 mio. Swiss franc.

Apparently the money was not solely raised by Mr. Weber himself, but partly by an unknown and mysterious third party with a special interest that the charges filed by Mr. Bauer would never be brought before the court.

According to a decision by a Zug court, the names, bank records and other information related to the repayment of the bribes should be handed over to Magistrate Thomas Hildbrand, who led the entire investigation in the ISL-bankruptcy and the economic disputes between ISL and FIFA.

In January 2005, Professor Nobel appealed the decision reveal the names to the Federal Court in Lausanne (Switzerland’s highest juridical body). In July 2005, the Federal Court  reversed the Zug court decision and stated that the specific details about the transactions should not be revealed.

The names of the football officials who for a number of years took bribes from ISL now remain a secret. What it takes to reopen the files with the specific names and bank records of the bribe-takers is unknown. It is revealed though in a court order from the Zug Court that a former ISL-executive during Mr. Hildbrand’s questioning has revealed knowledge on confidential transactions of money to certain decision-makers in the world of sports.

Four months after the bribe-takers' repayment and the liquidator’s annulment of the complaints, FIFA suddenly withdrew its criminal lawsuit against ISL senior executives for alleged fraud and embezzlement with the TV-Globo money.


Der Lange Arm des Sepp Blatter, Jean-Francois Tanda, Sonntags Zeitung, August 7 2005.

Foul!, Andrew Jennings, Harper Collins, 2006 

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