PSG president Nasser Al-Khelaïfi could escape trial in Switzerland

Nasser Al-Khelaïfi, in 2014.
Nasser Al-Khelaïfi, in 2014. ERIC GAILLARD / REUTERS

It is a legal victory looming for Nasser Al-Khelaïfi. Under criminal proceedings since October 2017 and charged in February by the Public Prosecutor's Office of the Swiss Confederation (MPC), for "Instigation to unfair management", the Qatari president of Paris-Saint-Germain (PSG) could escape a trial in Switzerland.

According to our information, the Swiss Federal Criminal Court (TPF) asked the public prosecutor's office on Thursday 26 March to review its copy by sending it back its indictment as part of the case for the award to BeIN Media of television rights to the Coupes of the 2026 and 2030 football world for the Middle East and North Africa region.

The judges consider that " everything leads to believe " that the allegations against Mr. Al-Khelaïfi, in his capacity as director of BeIN Media, and the former French secretary general of the International Football Federation (2007-2015), Jérôme Valcke (charged with unfair management), are part of a private context, without " no link " with the latter's professional activities. Consequently, the TPF questions the existence of an offense of "unfair management".

Read also Football: Nasser Al-Khelaïfi, boss of BeIn Sports and PSG, indicted by Swiss justice

Renting a villa in Sardinia

In the course of its investigation, the MPC notably estimated that Mr. Valcke “Obtained the reimbursement of a deposit of approximately 500,000 euros which he had paid to third parties for a villa in Sardinia, this after the purchase of the villa by Al-Khelaïfi, via a company, in place of Valcke ".

"Mr. Valcke then obtained from Mr. Al-Khelaïfi the exclusive right to enjoy the villa for a period of eighteen months in total – until his suspension from FIFA – without having paid for it a rent with an estimated value between around 900,000 euros and around 1.8 million euros ”, specified the Swiss public prosecutor's office on February 20 in its press release.

The rental contract, consulted by The world, was signed on 1er July 2014 by a close friend of Mr. Al-Khelaïfi, Abdelkader Bessedik, “manager” of the Qatari company Golden Home Real Estate, 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.

The annual rent was 96,000 euros

"Workforce between the two parties for a period of fourteen months", the rental lease would be from 1er April 2014 to August 31, 2015 and was renewable for twelve months. The annual rent was 96,000 euros. The tenant had to pay twelve regular payments " Wire Transfer " of 8,000 euros. Defenders of Al-Khelaïfi have always assured that he had never owned the villa.

In his indictment, the Swiss public prosecutor's office accused Mr. Valcke of not having "Announced the aforementioned advantages to FIFA, thus behaving in a manner contrary to its duties in the framework of its activity as general secretary, and of the fact that it enriched itself illegally".

The TPF believes that this transaction is "The result of an agreement concluded between Mr. Al-Khelaïfi and Mr. Valcke in a private capacity, without any link with the professional activity of Mr. Valcke and the function which he exerted".

"Amicable agreement" between Al-Khelaïfi and FIFA

The MPC has ten days to amend its indictment or to appeal the decision of the Federal Criminal Court. According to someone close to the file, "The judges did not want to go to trial with a case that did not hold up."

Contacted, the TPF did not wish to comment. Mr. Valcke and his lawyer, Patrick Hunziker, declined to react. The MPC and the lawyer of Mr. Al-Khelaïfi, Me Grégoire Mangeat, did not respond to our requests.

In February, the president of the PSG had seen the charges of "Active bribery" who were hanging over him in this case after FIFA decided to withdraw the complaint it had lodged in December 2016. The MPC said that a "Amicable agreement" was found in January between Al-Khelaïfi and FIFA. The Qatari defenders have agreed to pay the legal costs of FIFA in these proceedings.

Read also Nasser Al-Khelaïfi indicted: behind dropping charges of "corruption", "friendly agreement" with FIFA

Without having participated in this amicable agreement, Mr. Valcke, in turn, benefited from this partial classification of the procedure. But the Frenchman remains prosecuted for passive corruption and is suspected by the MPC of having received 1.25 million euros from a third defendant, a businessman whose identity has not been revealed.

If the prospect of a trial in Switzerland drifts, Mr. Al-Khelaïfi is not done with justice. He was also indicted in May 2019 for active bribery in France as part of an investigation into the award of the 2017 World Athletics Championships.

Read also Nasser Al-Khelaïfi, President of PSG, indicted for "active corruption" in the case of the world athletics in Qatar


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