Paris Saint-Germain president Nasser Al-Khelaifi and former FIFA secretary general Jerome Valcke have been indicted over the awarding of World Cup and Confederations Cup rights.
The Office of the Attorney General of Switzerland (OAG) has charged Valcke with accepting bribes, several counts of aggravated criminal mismanagement and the falsification of documents.
Al-Khelaifi, who also serves as the chairman of the beIN Media Group and is on the UEFA Executive Committee, and an unnamed businessman have been charged with inciting Valcke "to commit aggravated criminal mismanagement".
The unnamed businessman has also been charged with bribery, although similar charges against Al-Khelaifi relating to the World Cup tournaments in 2026 and 2030 have been dropped.
The OAG opened an investigation in 2017, a year after Valcke was sacked by FIFA after he was found guilty of breaching the governing body's ethics code on a number of occasions.
A statement from the OAG on Thursday read: "The investigations revealed that Valcke had received undue advantages from both co-accused.
"Valcke was refunded the down payment of around €500,000 that he had made to a third party on the purchase of a villa in Sardinia, after Al-Khelaifi had purchased the villa through a company instead of Valcke.
"Valcke then received from Al-Khelaifi the exclusive right to use the villa for a period of 18 months – until he was suspended by FIFA – without having to pay an estimated rent in between about €900,000 and about €1.8million.
"From the third accused, Valcke received three payments totalling about €1.25m to his company Sportunited LLC."
The statement went on to explain that Valcke's criminal mismanagement charge related to the fact he "had not reported the mentioned advantages that he received to FIFA". Al-Khelaifi and the unnamed businessman have been charged with this corresponding incitement.
Valcke has also been charged with “paying and accepting bribes” based on an allegation that “between 2013 and 2015 [he] exploited his position as Secretary General of FIFA to influence the award of media rights for Italy and Greece for various World Cup and FIFA Confederations Cup tournaments in the period between 2018 and 2030 in order to favour media partners that he preferred.”
It was also confirmed FIFA had withdrawn its criminal complaint against Al-Khelaifi and also partially against Valcke relating to the separate alleged bribery of private individuals.
That criminal complaint, which was in connection to allegations over the awarding of media rights for the 2026 and 2030 World Cups, was withdrawn after FIFA reached "an amicable agreement" with Al-Khelaifi.
The OAG statement added: "The accused are presumed innocent until a judgment enters into force."
Following the OAG's announcement, Al-Khelaifi released a statement that read: "After an exhaustive three-year investigation, where I have fully and openly cooperated with the Public Prosecutor in Switzerland, I am pleased that all charges of bribery in connection with the 2026 and 2030 World Cups have been dropped. As I have said vehemently and repeatedly for three years, the charges have not – and have never had – any basis whatsoever, either in fact or law.
"It is now – finally – indisputable fact that the 2026 and 2030 agreements were negotiated at arms-lengths and without any improper influence in any form. After the most forensic public, private, lawful and unlawful scrutiny of all my dealings, I have been cleared of all suspicions of bribery and the case has been dismissed definitively and conclusively."
Al-Khelaifi continued: "While a secondary technical charge remains outstanding, I have every expectation that this will be proven completely groundless and without any substance whatsoever, in the same way as the primary case.
"While I have cooperated with all authorities during the legal process, the three-year investigation has been characterised by constant leaks, misinformation and a seemingly relentless agenda to smear my reputation in the media – completely irrespective of the facts and the notion of due process. For that reason, I have requested the relevant Swiss authorities to open a criminal enquiry into the conduct of the investigation. I also reserve the right to take action against certain media who for three years have repeatedly published factually-unsupported and highly damaging articles, often based on illegally-sourced and – quite remarkably in some cases – faked and fabricated materials, to satisfy their narrative of my supposed guilt."Published 20 Feb 2020, 18:26 IST