Michel Platini now a formal suspect in Swiss case

GENEVA (AP) — French soccer great Michel Platini has been formally placed under investigation in Switzerland in relation to a $2 million payment he got from FIFA in 2011.

Swiss federal prosecutors this month extended their open criminal proceedings into then-FIFA president Sepp Blatter’s role in the payment to include Platini, according to a document seen Friday by The Associated Press.

Platini, who was the president of European soccer body UEFA at the time, is suspected of being an accomplice to criminal mismanagement, of misappropriation and an act of forgery, the document states.

The former France national team captain submitted invoices to FIFA in January 2011 seeking payment for an uncontracted additional salary from working as a presidential adviser in Blatter’s first term, from 1998-2002. He was paid the next month.

Five different courts and tribunals — including the FIFA ethics committee, the Court of Arbitration for Sport and the European Court of Human Rights — have ruled against Platini since Swiss prosecutors revealed the allegation in September 2015.

Platini and Blatter, who were both banned by FIFA, deny wrongdoing and have not been charged by Swiss prosecutors. Both were questioned at FIFA headquarters five years ago.

The office of Switzerland’s attorney general confirmed the proceedings against Platini and said “various hearings are planned at (our offices) in Bern during the third quarter of 2020.”

The prosecution office said it was unable to give any timetable for how the case could develop.

“I have total confidence in Swiss justice,” Platini said in a statement. “I am once again at their disposal and am absolutely serene.”

Platini’s four-year ban expired in October and he has been planning to return to the sport. He turned 65 last week.

The long-standing allegation was revived two years after Platini said Swiss prosecutors told him he had been cleared of wrongdoing.

However, a new prosecutor was appointed to lead some investigations last year in the wider Swiss probe of corruption allegations in international soccer that began in 2014.

Prosecutor Thomas Hildbrand’s name appears on official documents relating to Platini’s case that have been seen by the AP.

Hildbrand also extended criminal proceedings against Blatter this month for suspected criminal mismanagement to include a $1 million loan FIFA made to the Trinidad and Tobago soccer federation in 2010.

That money went into the control of then-FIFA vice president Jack Warner, who was campaigning in the Caribbean nation’s general election at the time. Warner has since been banned by FIFA and is fighting extradition to the United States, where he was indicted on financial corruption charges five years ago.

Two more former FIFA officials — Jérôme Valcke as secretary general and Markus Kattner as finance director — were named as “accused persons” in the Trinidad payment investigation. Both were fired by FIFA in 2016.

Switzerland attorney general Michael Lauber is no longer in charge of the wider FIFA investigation, which has involved at least 25 open criminal proceedings and one abandoned trial.

Lauber was recused from the case last year by the Swiss federal criminal court in fallout from a disciplinary case against him over meetings he did not disclose with current FIFA president Gianni Infantino in 2016 and 2017. Infantino was elected to lead FIFA in February 2016 during a chaotic period after Platini, his former boss at UEFA, and Blatter were banned.


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