18 Dec 2015

Switzerland freezes Fifa-linked bank accounts

7:30 am on 18 December 2015

Swiss bank accounts said to be linked to the world football governing body, Fifa, containing up to $US100 million, have been frozen.

Dollar bills rain down on FIFA president Sepp Blatter, at a media conference in Zurich. A man posing as a journalist had thrown the money at him.

Mr Blatter was deluged by fake dollar bills by a comedian at a news conference before his suspension earlier this year. Photo: Photosport

United States officials believe "corruption money" may have been moved through the now frozen accounts, the Swiss justice ministry said.

The US is reported to have asked Switzerland to freeze about 50 accounts in 10 Swiss banks associated with its extensive inquiry into corruption in the highest echelons of world football, the Tages Anzeiger newspaper reported.

It is said that numerous Fifa members are believed to have accounts in Switzerland.

Meanwhile, suspended Fifa president Sepp Blatter has been appearing before the organisation's ethics committee.

Mr Blatter, who is due to leave Fifa on 26 February, strongly pleaded his innocence over corruption allegations, his lawyer said.

The committee, made up of four judges, is expected to make a ruling early next week.

The ethics investigation was launched following a decision by the Swiss attorney-general to instigate criminal proceedings against Mr Blatter over a $US2m payment to European soccer chief Michel Platini in 2011. Both men deny any wrongdoing.

In October Mr Platini and Mr Blatter were both suspended from taking part in all soccer-related activity for 90 days, pending a full inquiry into their conduct.

Some observers have highlighted the irony of Mr Blatter's appearance before the committee, given it was he who in 2012 gave it powers to become far tougher and more independent.

He now argues that it does not have the power to remove an elected president and has complained of being the victim of an "inquisition".

-BBC

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