Geneva: Switzerland has agreed to help the Frankfurt public prosecutor investigate possible corruption in the awarding of the 2006 World Cup to Germany.
“The Office of the Attorney General of Switzerland can confirm it received a request for mutual judicial aid in this context,” Nathalie Guth, a spokeswoman for the Swiss public prosecutor, told AFP on Wednesday.
“The request will be treated as a priority.”
The request relates to claims made by Der Spiegel magazine in October that Germany had paid 6.7 million euros ($7.4 million) to FIFA to buy votes that allowed it to win the right to host the 2006 World Cup.
German authorities launched an investigation into the allegations and German police raided the offices of the German Football Federation (DFB) in November in what prosecutors described as a tax probe.
DFB chief Wolfgang Niersbach, his predecessor Theo Zwanziger and ex-general secretary Horst Schmidt are those believed to be suspected of tax fraud by the public prosecutor in Frankfurt.
Last month, Nadja Niesen, a senior German state prosecutor, said the DFB officials had filed the 6.7-million-euro payment as part of a contribution to a FIFA cultural programme, a deductible expense.
However, Niesen said it was “actually used for other purposes”, meaning that the defendants had submitted “inaccurate tax returns” and owed a “significant amount” of unpaid taxes.
Spiegel claimed the money was used to repay a loan from the now-deceased former CEO of German sportswear giant Adidas, Robert Louis-Dreyfus, and that the loan was a slush fund used to buy the votes of four Asian members of FIFA`s executive committee.
Germany beat South Africa by 12 votes to 11, with one abstention, in 2000 to win the right to host the 2006 global showpiece.
Niersbach has vehemently denied the claims, saying “there was no slush fund, there was no vote buying”, and claimed instead that the sum was used to secure 170 million euros of funding from FIFA.