Has Nasser Al-Khelaïfi attempted to bribe the former secretary general of the International Football Federation (FIFA), Jérôme Valcke? The question remains unanswered since 12 October 2017 and the announcement by the Public Prosecutor's Office of the Swiss Confederation (MPC) of the opening of criminal proceedings against the Qatari president of Paris-Saint-Germain.
Suspected of "active private corruption", Mr. Al-Khelaïfi, according to a statement from the prosecution, in his capacity as director of the BeIN Media group, allegedly offered "Undue advantages in relation to the granting of media rights in certain countries with respect to the 2026 and 2030 World Cups" Jerome Valcke, former FIFA number 2, also targeted by the MPC's investigation.
To date, Mr. Al-Khelaïfi has been heard once by the Swiss prosecutor's office in October 2017. " Dates have been blocked for possible hearings in the coming months, but no convocation has yet arrived. He will continue to collaborate fully in the manifestation of the truth "explains to World Me Grégoire Mangeat, one of the Swiss lawyers (with Mes Marc Bonnant and Fanny Margairaz) of the Qatari leader.
The latter was also indicted in June, in Paris, by judge Renaud Van Ruymbeke, as part of the investigation into the unsuccessful bid of Doha for the organization of World Athletics 2017. According to AFP, he remained silent during his hearing in June, " believing that all useful answers had already been made. "
A situation of lack of competition for BeIN Media
The Swiss prosecutor's office focuses on two elements in the Al-Khelaïfi-Valcke case.
The first is the agreement that secures the granting to BeIN Media media rights of World 2026 (organized by the United States, Canada and Mexico) and 2030. According to relatives of the case, the contract was signed in 2014 around 500 million euros. It concerns twenty-four countries in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA).
The agreement has never been officially announced by FIFA and concluded without a call for tenders – which was also the case for other contracts. " Lack of tenders is a very common practice in the world of sport. This does not mean that rules have been violated and that FIFA has been harmed, " observe Me Gregory Mangeat.
" In the next weeks ", Mr. Al-Khelaïfi's counsel will put on the record a" independent report which concludes that the price paid by BeIN is related, not only to the amounts paid for previous editions, but also to the amounts paid for comparable events. "
Me Mangeat believes that this report should result in the near completion of the prosecution. The absence of a competitive relationship in the MENA market renders inapplicable Swiss law which repressed private corruption at the material time. There was then no competitive market in this region of the world, for lack of other actors able to participate in such an award procedure, for this type of event and investment. "
The Villa Bianca
The Swiss prosecutor's office is also interested in a villa called "Villa Bianca", located in Porto Cervo, Sardinia. According to the Italian police who searched her, she would be the means of corruption "Used by Mr. Al-Khelaïfi to Mr. Valcke. Charges that are " strongly contested by Mr. Al-Khelaïfi According to his lawyers.
Failing to acquire it, as he intended by visiting it twice in the summer of 2013, Mr. Valcke decided to rent this villa to reside there. The world had access to the lease. In this document, written in both English and Italian, it appears that "Villa Bianca" belongs to Abdelkader Bessedik, owner of Qatari Golden Home Real Estate. This close to Mr. Al-Khelaïfi bought the house (a time estimated at 7 million euros) 5 million euros thanks to a loan from the boss of the PSG.
" Our client is not and has never owned this villasays Mangeat. He never even saw it. Mr. Al-Khelaïfi only made a loan to one of his friends, Mr. Bessedik. Loan repayment started in 2014, already. It ended in March 2017. "
The lease was signed on the 1stst July 2014 by Mr. Bessedik and Jérôme Valcke, as sole shareholder of the offshore company Umbelina SA, domiciled in the British Virgin Islands, a tax haven. Created in 2013 to buy a yacht, Umbelina SA notably appeared in 2016 during the Panama Papers scandal.
" Effectiveness between the two parties for a period of fourteen months », The lease of lease stretches from 1st April 2014 to August 31, 2015 and is renewable for twelve months. The annual rent of the property amounts to 96,000 euros. The tenant must pay twelve regular installments Wire Transfer »8,000 euros. In Camp Valcke, it is said that the Frenchman paid his rent.
according to The Parisian, Swiss justice has also focused on a gift that Mr. Al-Khelaïfi would have made to Mr. Valcke in 2015, in Doha: a Cartier brand watch, worth between 10,000 and 20,000 euros. In the Al-Khelaïfi camp, it is said that this watch, found under his pillow by the former FIFA number two, was offered by and on the initiative of the Qatar protocol service and that the president of the PSG was not aware.
For his lawyers, Mr. Al-Khelaïfi " must face a campaign of media smearing at least suspicious, in a context of extreme political tensions maintained against Qatar and his person. »Me Mangeat considers that "The absence of competition, of a benefit from our client, as well as of Mr. Valcke's breach of his duties leaves no room for the possibility of a serious charge. The classification of the procedure remains the most reasonable hypothesis. It is up to the defenders of Mr Al-Khelaïfi to convince the Swiss authorities.