Nasser al-Khelaifi, the head of international pay-television giant beIN Media Group, has received a boost as he seeks to clear his name in a corruption investigation in Switzerland with the country’s federal court having rejected a prosecution case against him.
Last month, al-Khelaifi, who is also the president of French soccer giants Paris Saint-Germain (PSG), was cleared of bribery in a probe that also involves Jérôme Valcke, former secretary general of Fifa, and a third unnamed accused, and relates to payments alleged to have been made for media rights for major tournaments.
In the case that was still being prosecuted, the advantages alleged to have been received by Valcke included being allowed to live rent-free for 18 months in a villa in Sardinia in Italy that al-Khelaifi was said to have bought through a company, which should have cost between €900,000 and €1.8mn.
The Qatari official has continued to deny any wrongdoing, and the Swiss federal court has rejected the secondary case, concluding that there was a lack of evidence of mismanagement by Valcke, so any alleged encouragement was irrelevant, that the business affairs between Valcke and al-Khelaifi were private and personal, and not to do with Fifa, and that the federation did not suffer financial damage.
The prosecutor has 10 days to appeal against the ruling.
Valcke, who is already serving a Fifa-imposed ban from soccer, has been charged with accepting bribes, aggravated criminal mismanagement and falsification of documents.
Charges of bribery against al-Khelaifi relating to beIN's acquisition of media rights in the Middle East and North Africa to the 2026 and 2030 World Cups were dropped in February.
At the time, al-Khelaifi, who is now a member of the Uefa executive committee, maintained he was totally innocent, and expected what he described as the “secondary technical charge” to “ be proven completely groundless and without any substance whatsoever, in the same way as the primary case.”
© Gulf Times Newspaper 2021