FIFA investigates ethics committee member over Panama Papers leak
Apr 05, 2016 01:42 AM EDT
The independent ethics committee of FIFA has launched an investigation into one of its own members over allegations related to the unprecedented Panama Papers leak. The papers which are part of a massive data leak from law firm Mossack Fonseca, which aids clients in establishing companies in offshore tax regimes, shows links between Juan Pedro Damiani and Eugenio Figueredo, a former FIFA vice-president recently accused of corruption.
FIFA faces a new embarrassment just six weeks after Gianni Infantino took over as the president of the world football's governing body and vowed to clean up the crisis-hit organization. According to the Daily Mail, Uruguayan lawyer Juan Pedro Damiani is one of the subjects of the investigation, which will look at alleged connections between him and his countryman Eugenio Figueredo, who was arrested in 2015 on corruption charges by the US Department of Justice.
BBC News reported that the documents were obtained by the German newspaper Suddeutsche Zeitung and shared with the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists. The records do not show any wrongdoing by Damiani or his law firm, but a spokesman for FIFA's investigatory committee confirmed the business relationship between the member of the adjudicatory chamber Juan Pedro Damiani and Eugenio Figueredo.
The leaked records linking Figueredo and Damiani are therefore likely to raise questions of the credibility of the organization to do background checks into ethics committee members. Moreover, two other executives charged in connection with the US football corruption investigation have links to Damiani's legal and accountancy agency. Hugo Jinkis and his son are currently under house arrest in Argentina, battling an extradition request to the US on corruption charges.
The documents also revealed that Damiani arranged the setting up of a Panama company through which Figueredo was given special authority to make loans to sporting institutions, reports The Guardian.
On Monday, the investigatory chamber of the ethics committee said in a statement that Damiani had not been suspended. The committee also reiterated that they are in a position to comment further on the specifics of the preliminary investigations.