Romario interviews Andrew Jennings
Romario: And the investigations continued?
AJ: That case was about how the managers of ISL had misbehaved. The police investigations continued into the bribes and the case was settled out of court in the summer of last year – the announcement was made during the World Cup in South Africa and got little attention. The formal statement from the prosecutor’s office in Zug said, ‘Investigating Magistrate Thomas Hildbrand in August 2008 began an investigation into allegations that certain members of FIFA’s Executive Committee received kickbacks on marketing contracts. After five years of inquiries the accused agreed to repay CHF5.5million and the case was closed.”
Romario: What did this mean, put simply?
AJ: The three targets of the investigation had to confess they knew about the bribes and that two of them had taken bribes. They repaid some of the money and were guaranteed secrecy. That is the Swiss judicial way of settling some criminal cases.
Romario: Is that the end of the story?
AJ: Certainly not. Our duty as BBC journalists was to find out who had admitted taking the bribes. We felt that the world had a right to know.
Teixeira and Havelange named
Romario: So what have you done?
AJ: As reporters do, we made confidential inquiries in Switzerland and learned a great deal more. So, on May 23 this year I presented a BBC Panorama programme in which I named Ricardo and João Havelange as the two FIFA officials who had admitted talking the bribes. I also named FIFA – and here we can only be talking about Blatter – admitting that money due to FIFA from ISL had been diverted in bribes.
Romario: Have you been fair to Ricardo Teixeira?
AJ: Of course. The BBC insists that anybody named like this in a programme is given ample time to respond to allegations and hopefully, grant us an interview. For both programmes naming Teixeira – last November and this May – we sent two emails each time informing him of our allegations and inviting him to participate in the programme to put his side of the story.
Romario: How did he respond?
AJ: He has never replied. He has ignored us and not taken the opportunity to deny anything. Instead he has attacked the BBC and British journalism as ‘corrupt.’ That is no answer to very serious, documented allegations.
Romario: What documents do you have to prove that Teixeira – and Havelange – took bribes?
AJ: For our programme in November last year I obtained a list of 165 bribes paid by ISL to mostly FIFA officials – the $100 million. We showed it on screen – highlighting the names of Teixeira and Havelange. We also got more evidence showing that Teixeira had taken nearly $10 million through a Liectenstein company named Sanud.
Romario: Why was that important?
AJ: In the Senator Alvaro Dias 2001 report on corruption at the CBF he named this foreign company Sanud as being the source of money that went to Teixeira. But he couldn’t find out where Sanud got its money. We found it – many times – in the list of bribes paid by the ISL company. So the money was laundered from Switzerland to Liechtenstein and then to Brazil. It remains a disappointment that prosecutors did not take action over the revelations in the Dias report.
Continued . . .