Thu | Jul 9, 2020

PSG president facing French corruption probe

Published:Friday | May 24, 2019 | 12:26 AM


Paris Saint-Germain president Nasser Al-Khelaifi is under investigation for corruption related to Qatar’s bids to host the 2017 and 2019 World Championships, a judicial official said yesterday.

The official told The Associated Press the preliminary charge of “active corruption” was filed against the beIN media group chairman in mid-May in a case focusing on the payment of $3.5 million to an IAAF official.

The judicial official, who spoke on condition of anonymity because the person wasn’t authorised to discuss the investigation publicly, said Al-Khelaifi is suspected of corruption “in regards with Qatar’s track and field worlds”.

Al-Khelaifi, who is from Qatar, denies any wrongdoing. His lawyer, Francis Szpiner, said that the payments made in 2011 were “perfectly tracked” and added his client was not involved in the money transfer.The chief executive officer of beIN, Yousef Al-Obaidly, was also handed preliminary charges of corruption, while former IAAF president Lamine Diack is suspected of “passive corruption” in the same case.

BeIN media group declined to comment on the case because it said it “doesn’t relate in any way to the company.”Investigative magistrate Renaud Van Ruymbeke based his suspicion on documents showing that a company owned by a former IAAF official received two payments totalling about $3.5 million from Qatari investors before the vote for the 2017 track world championships.

Qatar eventually lost to London but was later awarded the 2019 worlds. The championships will be held in Doha from September 27-Oct. 6.

The two payments from Oryx Qatar Sports Investments, an investment fund linked to the Qatari government, were made to Pamodzi Sports Marketing in October and November 2011, days before the vote.

Pamodzi was founded by one of Diack’s sons, Papa Massata Diack. A former marketing consultant at the IAAF, he has been banned for allegations of extorting hundreds of thousands of dollars from a Russian marathon runner to avoid a doping ban before the 2012 Olympics. France has issued a wanted notice for him via Interpol.

In his statement, Al-Khelaifi’s lawyer said the payments made by Oryx to the IAAF’s appointed agent were transparent.Al-Khelaifi, who was questioned by the judge in March, is an Oryx shareholder with his brother Khalid.

Al-Khelaifi is a member of the UEFA executive committee, representing European clubs, and is due to take part in the body’s meeting on Wednesday in Baku, Azerbaijan.