Probe uncovers Hammam link

Beckenbauer alleged to have made secret payments of $13.7m to Qatari's firm

LONDON • An investigation into Germany's 2006 World Cup bidding scandal has exposed secret payments totalling about £7 million (S$13.7 million) by Franz Beckenbauer to Qatar's Fifa member.

The payments by football legend Beckenbauer, who was head of Germany's World Cup bid and the organising committee, were made in 2002 to Kemco Scaffolding, a company owned by Qatar's Mohamed Hammam, who was banned for life by Fifa in 2012.

At the time of the £7 million payments, Hammam was Fifa president Sepp Blatter's most important supporter and helped the Swiss win re-election in 2002 for a second term.

The Qatari, a former president of the Asian Football Confederation, has denied receiving the money.

The Kemco payments were separate from the £5 million paid by the 2006 World Cup organising committee to Fifa in 2005 - which then paid the money to Robert Louis-Dreyfus, the former adidas chief executive.

  • £7m
    Payment by Franz Beckenbauer, head of Germany's 2006 World Cup bid, to a company owned by Qatar's former Fifa member Mohamed Hamman in 2002. Hammam is the former chief of the AFC.

  • £5m
    Further payments by the World Cup organising committee to Fifa in 2006.

Der Spiegel, the German magazine, has claimed that the £5 million was repayment of money loaned by Dreyfus to set up a slush fund to buy votes.

But the lawyer in charge of the investigations said on Friday that he could not rule out that votes had been bought - Germany won Fifa's vote to host the World Cup ahead of South Africa and England - or if the money had gone to support Blatter's re-election.

"We have no proof of vote-buying but we also cannot rule it out," Christian Duve, of Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer, the law firm commissioned by the German FA (DFB) to investigate the scandal, told a news conference.

"The payments landed somewhere in Qatar. This (company) is under the influence of Hammam. But anything beyond that is speculation. We had the task of presenting the facts.

"You could connect the payment with the Fifa re-election of Blatter or for the 2006 vote but that would be pure speculation."

The investigation found that a folder called "Fifa 2000" had gone missing from the DFB archives and that numerous e-mails and other electronic information had been deleted.

Several people, including Blatter, declined to speak to the investigators, as did Markus Kattner, Fifa's acting secretary-general. The world governing body said that was on the advice of Switzerland's attorney-general, who is also looking into the scandal.

Beckenbauer has admitted making mistakes but has strongly denied any wrongdoing.

The investigation found that the £5 million slush fund was "falsely declared" by the World Cup organising committee.

The payment to Fifa was ostensibly for an opening gala, but that was cancelled and the money was instead paid to Louis-Dreyfus. The investigation said that Blatter had been aware of the payment.

"Fifa's lawyers told us upon our inquiry that at that time Fifa president Blatter was informed about the payment and the bank statement was shown to him," Duve said.

"That means that the payment was made to Fifa, but was not for Fifa, but redirected to Mr Dreyfus."

Rainer Koch, the interim president of the DFB, said there was a "complete failure of mechanisms at the DFB which cannot happen again".

He also blamed Wolfgang Niersbach, the DFB's former president, who resigned last year over the affair and faces a tax evasion probe for stopping information going to the association. Niersbach remains Germany's representative at Fifa and Uefa levels.

THE TIMES, LONDON

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on March 06, 2016, with the headline 'PROBE UNCOVERS HAMMAM LINK'. Print Edition | Subscribe