As announced FIFA has today, Monday, brought charges at the examining magistrate's office in the canton of Zug in connection with the bankruptcy of the ISMM Group.
The charges are directed against the Chief Financial Officer of ISMM, Hans-Jürg Schmid, Senior Vice President, Hans-Peter Weber and unnamed third parties. The charges are based on suspicion of fraud according to article 146 of the Swiss Penal Code (StGB), embezzlement according to article 138 StGB and disloyal business management according to article 158 StGB.
"We have decided to take this step on obtaining evidence that the payments due to FIFA were being withheld", said FIFA President Joseph S. Blatter today in Seoul, where he is attending the FIFA Confederations Cup. "This money belongs to football and FIFA intends to do everything within its power to shed light on this affair and to retrieve the money."
The charges are made in connection with a pre-payment of USD 60 million (approximately CHF 90 million) from the Brazilian television channel TV Globo to ISMM on 18 September 2000. The agreement between FIFA and ISMM stipulates that the latter were bound to pay all instalments from licensees into a special account with a major Swiss Bank, which FIFA could monitor for a daily record of all transactions. The pre-payment from TV Globo was however paid in to a different ISMM account of which FIFA had no knowledge and had no access to.
This was a standard ISMM account at the same major Swiss Bank. As FIFA was unable to keep track of the financial transactions, it regards this account as illicit or secret and the relevant payments as unlawful.
The claims made by ISMM in the media that the payment from TV Globo merely constituted a loan is contradicted by documentary evidence in the possession of FIFA which has been submitted to the examining authorities together with the charges filed. There can therefore be no doubt that ISMM submitted a bill to TV Globo for this amount - subtracting a determined percentage for pre-payment - and requested that the money be paid into a special account. In a letter dated 15 September 2000 the above-mentioned persons, Hans-Jürg Schmid and Hans-Peter Weber, explicitly confirmed to TV Globo on behalf of ISMM that TV Globo would be discharged of any claim in connection with this instalment.
ISMM stands accused of attempting to keep FIFA in the dark. What is more, they allegedly carried out the questionable transaction into the illicit account in all conscience and in breach of contract. By doing so, they are under strong suspicion of having committed a punishable act.