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Top FIFA Officials Shared $80M in Five Years: Investigators

Sports Dow Jones Newswires

A small group of FIFA's top officials, including ex-President Sepp Blatter and his former second-in-command, Jé rô me Valcke, allegedly paid each other bonuses worth tens of millions of dollars tied to World Cups, according to a cache of contracts disclosed by internal investigators on Friday. 

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The contracts, previously unknown to most of the top brass at soccer's world governing body, also allegedly show bonuses for the former FIFA finance committee chief Julio Grondona, who died in 2014, and former Deputy Secretary-General Markus Kattner. Mr. Kattner was fired by FIFA last month for allegedly paying himself millions in secret bonuses. Mr. Kattner didn't respond to requests for comment. 

"The evidence appears to reveal a coordinated effort by three former top officials of FIFA to enrich themselves through annual salary increases, World Cup bonuses and other incentives totaling more than 79 million Swiss francs [$79.7 million]—in just the last five years," said Bill Burck, a partner with Quinn Emanuel Urquhart & Sullivan, the U.S. law firm that has run an internal probe over the past year. The firm shared details of the contracts in a statement. 

In his role as chief financial officer, Mr. Kattner was responsible for signing off on FIFA's largest payments, including eight-figure bonuses that went to Mr. Blatter, according to the contracts. 

Mr. Kattner, and attorneys for Messrs Blatter and Valcke didn't immediately return requests for comment. FIFA's former chief auditor Domenico Scala, who the investigators say was aware of some of the payments, declined to comment. 

Some of the contracts for the bonuses paid to Messrs. Blatter and Valcke were discovered in a safe sitting in Mr. Kattner's office at FIFA headquarters in Zurich, according to a person familiar with the investigation. Swiss and American law enforcement have been briefed on the latest findings, investigators said. 

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The Swiss attorney general said Friday that his office had conducted a search at FIFA the previous day. 

A person familiar with the investigation said the payments were concealed in FIFA's financial results as part of a general bonus pool, without any details on who might be receiving them or the specific amounts. 

Their existence was also kept hidden from all but a few senior officials at FIFA, all of whom had the power to approve them for each other, people familiar with the investigation said. 

Mr. Kattner was removed from his job last month after an investigation revealed that he had paid himself millions of dollars in bonuses that had not been approved by FIFA's executive committee. He had been serving as acting secretary-general since September, when Mr. Valcke was removed from his job for allegedly conspiring to sell a personal cache of World Cup tickets on the black market. Mr. Valcke has consistently denied any wrongdoing. 

Write to Joshua Robinson at joshua.robinson@wsj.com

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