The central question surrounding the FIFA corruption scandal was less “is there corruption” and more “how bad is it.” That scope has started to come into view.
Lawyers contracted to FIFA released new details on the financial impact of the corrupt practices of several former officials, including former president Sepp Blatter. According to the lawyers, Blatter, along with former secretary-general Jérôme Valcke and former director of finance Markus Kattner, paid themselves nearly $80 million in raises and bonuses over the past five years.
Bill Burck, an attorney at Chicago-based law firm Quinn Emanuel, who have worked on retainer for FIFA since the scandal blew up, says the figures are pretty damning. “The evidence appears to reveal a coordinated effort by three former top officials of Fifa to enrich themselves through annual salary increases, World Cup bonuses and other incentives totalling more than 79m Swiss francs in just the last five years.”
The figures come after FIFA turned over a mountain of financial documents to their lawyers as part of the ongoing corruption and bribery probe. These documents, among others, will be handed over US and Swiss authorities to aid in the investigation.
The new disclosure also breaks down how much each disgraced former official paid themselves over this period. Sepp Blatter alone was shown to have pocketed over $38 million.
To put that in perspective:
Blatter and Valcke are the subject of an ongoing criminal investigation in Switzerland. They’ve also been banned by FIFA from all football activities for six and twelve years, respectively.
Statements from FIFA repeatedly pressed the idea of a “coordinated effort” to defraud FIFA’s governing body, noting that all three men had amendments to their contracts to facilitate the inflated bonus payments processed on the same day.
Valcke and Kattner also received eight-and-a-half year contract extensions before the presidential elections in 2011. These extensions included huge bonus payouts and severance packages. At the time, it was unclear that Blatter would successfully retain his office in the face of a strong challenge from Mohamed bin Hammam.
All three men also received hefty bonuses for the 2010 and 2014 editions of the World Cup.
Ironically, FIFA created a sub-committee in 2013 specifically charged to reign in the kind of massive bonuses that the three former officials claimed. Not only did FIFA fail to do its one job, FIFA admitted that the sub-committee even paid a handsome bonus to Kattner days after the early-morning raid at the Baur-au-Lac hotel in Zurich last year.
FIFA said the bonus payments illustrated “widespread fraud and corruption” within the organization. (Gee, you think?)