$2.2 Million in Fees Received by FIFA’s Ethics Investigator

FIFA was billed for 2.2 million Swiss francs ($2.2 million) in hourly fees for 2014 and 2015 by the independent investigator probing scandals at the soccer’s governing body, said media reports quoting people familiar with the matter.

Cornel Borbely has headed the investigatory chamber of its ethics committee since 2014 and FIFA has never disclosed how much it pays the Swiss lawyer Borbely.

Aide to former U.S. Attorney Michael Garcia, who quit FIFA two years ago, saying it inaccurately summarized his report into the bidding process for the 2018 and 2022 World Cup tournaments, Borbely assumed a leadership role after this stint with Garcia.

Several FIFA executives have been investigated and sanctioned by Borbely’s committee, since the U.S. Department of Justice unsealed an indictment in May 2015 accusing dozens of soccer officials of corruption. Since both men are Swiss and the organization’s rules prohibit officials from investigating fellow citizens, he recused himself from the case that led FIFA to ban former President Sepp Blatter last year.

“The year 2015 was most likely the busiest for the ethics committee since its establishment,” FIFA said in a statement, declining to provide details of the exact amounts billed. When the 2016 financial report is published next year, “the costs of the judicial bodies will be publicly made available”, FIFA said. According to the people familiar with FIFA’s finances, Borbely billed FIFA 1.2 million Swiss francs for 2015 and about 1 million Swiss francs in 2014.

FIFA’s highest administrator, Secretary-General Fatma Samoura, receives 1.3 million Swiss francs in salary and the amount Borbely billed in 2015 is close to that amount.

According a person familiar with his caseload, Borbely’s FIFA compensation this year is likely to be similar to the amount he billed in 2015.

Scrutiny of the independence of its judicial bodies, including Borbely’s ethics group, has been possible due to a rule change promoted by new President Gianni Infantino at FIFA’s annual meeting in May. Something that had been restricted in the past to a vote of its entire 211-nation congress, the ruling allows FIFA’s executive leadership to hire and fire members of the oversight groups.

Audit and control head Domenico Scala said he could no longer be considered independent due to the rule and that led to Scala’s resignation. The statute change puts Borbely and ethics judge Hans-Joachim Eckert under pressure, said Mark Pieth, an international governance expert who advised FIFA to adopt an independent ethics committee in 2012.

“I had hoped we would have done something good by implementing this independent ethics committee — now we see how it is being dismantled piece by piece,” Pieth said.

Infantino found himself under an ethics investigation of his expenses within months of assuming office in February 2016. Following an inquiry that involved more than 20 witness interviews, Infantino was cleared. Borbely was also excused from this process due to the FIFA nationality rule.

The rule change was necessary to ensure officials could be replaced between FIFA’s yearly congresses, Infantino has said. Borbely would quit should FIFA’s leadership interfere with inquiries and hasn’t publicly commented on the matter and isn’t supportive of the rule change.

(Adapted from Bloomberg)

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