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Qatari media boss grilled in Fifa graft case

Al Khelaifi probed over charges that beIN got World Cup rights through bribes

Image Credit: AFP
Paris Saint-Germain president and beIN Media chief Nasser Al Khelaifi (R) leaves the office of Swiss attorney general after his hearing on the latest World Cup corruption probe, on October 25, 2017 in Bern.

Bern: Swiss prosecutors grilled Paris Saint-Germain president and beIN Media chief Nasser Al Khelaifi yesterday over allegations that he obtained World Cup media rights by bribing a top Fifa executive.

Al Khelaifi, a Qatari with close ties to the ruling family, is under investigation for allegedly striking illegal deals with disgraced former Fifa secretary general Jerome Valcke, who had been Sepp Blatter’s right-hand man.

'I have nothing to hide' 

Al Khelaifi, 43, and his legal team arrived at the OAG headquarters in the Swiss capital Bern at about 9.30am, avoiding the main entrance.

The Qatari emerged nearly eight hours later to proclaim his innocence. “I have nothing to hide,” he told reporters.

Andre Marty, Swiss attorney general (OAG) spokesman,  said there was “huge complexity in the case” with “masses of information” to be sorted.

Under investigation since March

Al Khelaifi and Valcke have been under investigation since March in connection with media rights for the 2026 and 2030 World Cups on allegations including corruption, bribery, criminal mismanagement and forgery of a document.

Authorities in France, Greece, Italy and Spain have cooperated with the Swiss probe, including by raiding properties. But the OAG only went public with the case on October 12. 

 'Advantageous for Fifa'

Al Khelaifi’s high-profile French lawyer, Francis Szpiner, then swiftly announced that his sports tycoon client “denies any corruption” and “wanted to be heard as soon as possible” by Swiss prosecutors.

The beIN Media group, which is headquartered in Doha, has insisted that its World Cup rights deals were “advantageous for Fifa”, rejecting any suggestion that it got favourable treatment.          

 

 

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