SPORTS LAW AT THE CROSSROADS

Zwanziger, Niersbach and Schmidt indicted over World Cup 2006 tax evasion

Niersbach-Beckenbauer

By Mark Baber

May 24 – German prosecutors in Frankfurt have filed charges of tax evasion against former DFB Presidents Wolfgang Niersbach (pictured left) and Theo Zwanziger and the DFB Secretary General Horst R. Schmidt.

The three accused confirmed on Wednesday the receipt of an indictment accusing them of having deliberately deceived tax authorities and having filed a false tax return for the 2006 World Cup year. All three reject the allegations.

Through his lawyer, Zwanziger stated: “This charge is blind actionism to distract from their own wrongdoing and push this ‘hot potato investigation’ as quickly as possible into the responsibility of the courts. I had at no time any reason to make the already rich DFB by even richer by tax evaasion.”

Niersbach told the German Press Agency: “It will turn out that the charges against me are completely baseless.”

The Frankfurt / Main tax office decided at the end of October 2017 that a payment of €6.7 million from the DFB to former Adidas boss Robert Louis-Dreyfus, which is alleged to lie at the centre of the affair, had been “unfair” – and imposed a fine of €19.2 million.

The €6.7 million payment, made by the DFB to FIFA in 2005 was declared as a contribution to a cultural event (and therefore as tax-deductible). However, the event never happened and investigators believe the payment was a concealed payment to Louis- Dreyfus.

Three years earlier, Louis-Dreyfus had extended a loan of CHF10 million to president of the World Cup organising committee, Franz Beckenbauer (pictured right), and a similar amount was transferred from an account held by Beckenbauer and his former manager to a company belonging to then-FIFA executive Mohamed Bin Hammam in Qatar.

Schmidt’s lawyers claimed that “there was no personal loan to Mr. Beckenbauer”. This was “an invention of the tax investigation, in order to be able to uphold the accusation of tax evasion, which was wrong from the start.”

According to a report in Bild, former FIFA General-Secretary Urs Linsi has also been charged by the prosecutors in Frankfurt.

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