Panama Papers: Police raid Uefa offices over TV rights deal

Files show Fifa president signed deal with two men caught up in corruption scandal

Swiss police raided the headquarters of European football body Uefa  following the latest revelations of a web of Panama-based offshore financial dealings by the rich and famous. Photograph: Fabrice Coffrini/AFP/Getty Images

Swiss police raided the headquarters of European football body Uefa following the latest revelations of a web of Panama-based offshore financial dealings by the rich and famous. Photograph: Fabrice Coffrini/AFP/Getty Images

 

Swiss police have raided Uefa’s headquarters in Nyon to seize details of a TV rights contract signed by the Fifa president, Gianni Infantino, following the Panama Papers leak.

The files, seen by the Guardian, show that Mr Infantino, formerly director of legal services at Uefa, European football’s governing body, co-signed a TV contract in 2006 with two businessmen who have since been caught up in football’s global corruption scandal. Uefa, which has denied any wrongdoing, said it is co-operating fully with the Swiss police.

The office of the attorney general of Switzerland (OAG) said the search yesterday was “motivated by the suspicion of criminal mismanagement” relating to the sale of TV rights but that “no specific individual is being targeted by these proceedings”. The OAG also revealed a separate location was searched and that authorities had already been investigating the rights acquisition before further details from the Panama Papers were published.

Suspicion

A statement read: “The suspicion is based on the result of findings that have emerged from other proceedings, as well as the corresponding financial analyses carried out by the OAG. Current publications in the media subsequently revealed still other elements that made it possible to complement the existing findings in a decisive manner.”

According to records, in 2006 Uefa concluded offshore deals through its marketing partner Team with one of the indicted figures at the heart of an alleged “World Cup of fraud”, despite previously insisting it had no dealings with any of them.

The Ecuadorian rights to the Champions League, the Uefa Cup and the Super Cup were acquired by an Argentinian company called Cross Trading. It immediately sold on to broadcaster Teleamazonas for about three or four times the amount. The contracts covered the period from 2003 to 2006 and from 2006 to 2009.

Dismayed

Uefa said on Tuesday night that Mr Infantino, elected Fifa president in February as successor to Sepp Blatter, was “dismayed that his integrity was being doubted” in media coverage of the case.

The Mossack Fonseca documents detailed a 2006 contract to sell the rights for Ecuador.

The deal was with two figures who have since been accused of bribery as part of the US investigation into corruption at Fifa. Hugo Jinkis and Mariano Jinkis, his son, are currently under house arrest in Argentina.

Cross Trading, the Jinkis’s Argentinian company, which was registered in the South Pacific tax haven of Niue, bought the rights for $111,000, (€97,291) then immediately sold them to the Ecuadorian broadcaster Teleamazonas for $311,170.

Uefa had initially denied doing business with any of the 14 individuals indicted by the FBI, but admits now its response was incomplete. Guardian Service