The former head of FIFA’s corruption watchdog has been indicted in a corruption investigation involving at least $US8 billion ($9.7 billion) in payments made to FIFA officials in Qatar.
The International Criminal Court has issued an arrest warrant for Sepp Blatter, the 79-year-old former president of FIFA who stepped down from the organisation on Thursday amid a corruption scandal.
The ICA is looking into allegations of corruption at the highest levels of FIFA, with Blatter and the president of the Confederation of African Football, Issa Hayatou, both being charged.
The two men are accused of “knowingly, wilfully and with reckless disregard for their obligations under the law” to pay bribes to FIFA president SeppBlatter and his associates, the court said in a statement.
Blatter is a former FIFA vice-president who stepped aside in July, amid an international corruption scandal involving more than $US1 billion in bribes paid to football officials in a number of World Cup tournaments.
The former Fifa vice-presidents have denied any wrongdoing.
In the arrest warrant, the ICA said it had requested a detention order for Blatter as well as Hayatouns wife, Sepp.
In a statement, Hayatoudou said her husband was innocent of the charges.
“I am deeply saddened to hear that the IAC has been unable to arrest Sepp in relation to the recent corruption scandal,” she said.
“The arrest warrant was issued to prevent the unjust prosecution of my husband.
I want to reiterate my belief that all charges against him should be dropped.
I look forward to seeing Sepp again.”
A number of prominent FIFA officials were named in the indictments on Thursday, including the executive committee of the FIFA executive committee, which is responsible for selecting the next president.
In its indictment, the International Criminal Courts said it was concerned that Blatter had benefited from the illegal payment of bribes to several FIFA officials, including Hayatoulou and Blatter himself.
The indictment alleges that Hayatrouou, Blatter’s former deputy at the time, and his brother, Issa, had used the money to pay a former colleague and his family for a contract to manage the Qatar 2022 World Cup, according to the court.
The court also alleged that Hayatiou had used FIFA’s money to bribe Hayatouchou to give Blatter a private jet, and HayatOU to pay Blatter to attend a football tournament in Qatar, according the court statement.
The court also charged Hayatouk with using FIFA’s resources to pay Hayatolyou and his son, Issa for trips and conferences with Qatar 2022 officials.
The charges are the latest in a string of FIFA corruption cases, with Hayatous son, Ahmed, being named in an indictment by the ICD last week, accusing him of accepting bribes from Hayatès son, Mohamed.
Hayatou has not commented on the charges and was not in Qatar for the tournament.
Hayats wife, Issa told reporters that the arrests were “nothing to do with me”.
“I hope that they will not make any arrests and that they (the ICA) will get to the bottom of this,” she told reporters.
In January, FIFA said it would investigate the Qatar bid, which was to be hosted by Qatar 2022.
Blatt was among the top figures who voted to support the Qatar World Cup bid.
In April, the FIFA governing body announced it was going ahead with a controversial $US6 billion ($7.4 billion) transfer of FIFA president Mohamed Bin Hammam to a trust that will be run by Blatter.
Blatter stepped down as president of Fifa last month.