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Blatter director at FIFA's Irish firm which sent millions to Zurich

Director: FIFA's Irish business was in existence for seven years before its voluntary liquidation in 2008
Director: FIFA's Irish business was in existence for seven years before its voluntary liquidation in 2008

THE Irish firm owned by scandal-hit FIFA had revenues of €113m during its years in business, according to a report in the Herald.

FIFA Ireland Ltd counted FIFA boss Sepp Blatter among its directors and transferred massive sums to its parent organisation in Switzerland.

It was established here in 2001 for tax purposes and had an office in the IFSC for most of its years in business, the Herald said.

Blatter announced his decision to quit after a week of controversy beginning with the arrest of several FIFA officials on charges of corruption.

The 79-year-old, who stepped down only days after being re-elected as FIFA president for a fifth time, has denied any wrongdoing but conceded that FIFA needs "profound restructuring".

"It is my deep care for FIFA and its interests, which I hold very dear, that has led me to take this decision," he said as he announced his resignation.

FIFA's Irish business was in existence for seven years before its voluntary liquidation in 2008.

Today the Herald can reveal the extent of FIFA's business activities in Ireland, including how it:

  • Received millions in revenue from the sale of licensing rights in relation to the 2002 World Cup.
  • Transferred vast sums to FIFA in Zurich in the form of licence fees.
  • Had no directly employed staff in the period covered by its accounts.
  • Asked Football Association of Ireland (FAI) officials to serve as directors.

The sums of money in FIFA Ireland Ltd's accounts were recorded in Swiss Francs (CHF).

An analysis of the accounts filed over the course of its years in business shows that it had a combined turnover of CHF 172.7m from the final four months of 2001 to the end of 2006.

That's approximately €113.1m as per the average currency exchange rate between the franc and the euro for the years in question.

A combined CHF 171m (approximately €112m) was transferred to FIFA by the Irish firm over the same period.

While turnover was in the tens of millions of francs, Irish corporation tax paid on the company's profits comes to a combined CHF 291,355 (approximately €190,866) during its years in business.

A FIFA statement last night said that it established the company to enter licence agreements with its Japanese commercial affiliates, "in particular with respect to the 2002 FIFA World Cup in Korea/Japan".

"At that time the double taxation treaty entered into by Ireland with Japan gave better protection against international double taxation than the old Swiss/Japanese double taxation treaty," said the statement.

"Such arrangements are normal, otherwise one might be paying tax twice on the same income.

"The structure was in full compliance with all relevant laws and regulations."

The company was said to have been put into liquidation in 2008 because "it became out of date as tax laws changed".

Blatter is described in the statement as an "ex officio director" of most of FIFA's subsidiaries.

"He did not have or exercise any operational function for this company," it added.

A number of FAI officials served as directors of the company, including former general secretary Brendan Menton, though he left the board of FIFA Ireland Ltd as far back as 2003.

The FIFA statement said that neither the FAI nor its officials gained financially from FIFA Ireland Ltd, with the FAI stating that it made "no financial gain or loss from this company".

Former FAI presidents Michael 'Milo' Corcoran and David Blood were also directors and remained in place until the company was wound up.

Neither Mr Corcoran nor Mr Blood wished to comment on their involvement when contacted by the Herald.

An FAI statement said it had "had no legal relationship to this company at any stage during its existence".

"FIFA Ireland Ltd was wholly owned by FIFA," it said.

The statement added that FAI board minutes from October 2001 record that Mr Menton and Mr Corcoran "informed the board of management of the FAI that they had been asked by FIFA, and had agreed to become Irish directors of this company".

"As the FAI had no legal relationship with FIFA Ireland, it was requested by the board that an indemnity be sought for the association."