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Top DFB officials Wolfgang Niersbach, Theo Zwanziger charged with tax evasion over 2006 World Cup

Top DFB officials Wolfgang Niersbach, Theo Zwanziger charged with tax evasion over 2006 World Cup

Prosecutors have charged two former DFB presidents with tax evasion in connection with the 2006 World Cup affair. The charges relate to a payment for a cultural event which never took place.

Both former German Football Association (DFB) presidents, Theo Zwanzinger and Wolfgang Niersbach, as well as former DFB General Secretary Horst R. Schmidt, confirmed on Wednesday that tax evasion charges had been brought against them. Zwanzinger, who was DFB president at the time the payment was made, told mass-circulation daily Bild: "At no point did I have any reason to make the DFB richer than it already was by means of tax evasion."

Niersbach told the SID news agency that he was certain that it would soon become clear that "the charges against me are completely baseless."

The charges are based on payment of €6.7 million ($7.3 million) that the DFB made to football's world governing body, FIFA, in 2005, which it declared as a contribution for a cultural event at the World Cup in Germany, and therefore as a tax-deductible expense. The cultural event in question never actually took place.

Investigators believe the money was actually a concealed repayment to the late former Adidas boss Robert Louis-Dreyfus, made via FIFA.

Three years earlier, Louis-Dreyfus had extended a loan of 10 million Swiss francs to the president of the World Cup organizing committee, Franz Beckenbauer. Around the same time, a similar sum was transferred from an account held by Beckenbauer and his former manager to a company belonging to then-FIFA executive Mohamed Bin Hammam in Qatar.

Zwanzinger, Niersbach and Schmidt are accused of deliberately deceiving the tax authorities and filing a false tax return for the 2006 World Cup year. The DFB has already had to pay 19.2 million euros of back taxes as a result.

According to Bild, prosecutors in Frankfurt have also filed charges against former FIFA General Secretary Urs Linsi.

Source: www.dw.com

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