PSG president placed under investigation for alleged corruption
Real Madrid president, Florentino Pérez (R) and PSG president Al-Khelaifi (L), during a Champions League in Paris, Mar. 6, 2018. EPA-EFE/FILE/Christophe Petit Tesson
Paris, May 23 (efe-epa).- The president of French soccer champions Paris Saint-Germain, Nasser Al-Khelaifi, is under investigation on suspicion of corruption linked to bids for the world athletics championships, French judicial sources told Efe Thursday.
The sources said the businessman from Qatar was under investigation and facing potential charges of "active corruption" as part of a probe into the 2017 and 2019 sporting events.
French newspaper Le Parisien said Al-Khelaifi made payments worth $3.5 million to the former head of the International Athletics Federation (IAAF), the corruption-dogged Senegalese Lamine Diack, between 1999-2015 in a bid to host the championships in Qatar in 2017.
However, the competition was eventually held in London and Qatar was later awarded the 2019 event.
Al-Khelaifi previously gave declarations to judge Renaud Van Ruymbeke at a Paris court over accusations relating to the same case back in March.
As well as presiding over PSG, which boasts stars like Kylian Mbappé and Neymar Jr., the magnate is also the joint of Qatar Sports Investments, a sovereign fund that invests in the small nation's sports and leisure industry and is the chair BeIN media group.
His brother Khalid also founded a closed shareholding under a similar name of Oryx Qatar Sports Investments.
Van Ruymbeke, who investigated the financial ramifications of the Russian doping scandal, found that Oryx had made payments worth $3.5 million to Senegalese company Pamodzi Sports Consulting, which is run by Papa Massata Dieck, the son of Lamine Diack, just before the vote on who should host the event.
According to his findings, the money was transferred in a bid to seal the 2017 World Championships, which Doha is now set to host this year, instead.
Speaking to Le Parisien, Al-Khelaifi's lawyer Francis Spizner said the court appearance on Mar. 20 was done voluntarily and was the product of a misunderstanding.
"It has to be known that Nasser Al-Khelaifi's initial appearance in court came from a regrettable misunderstanding from the investigating judge who confused Oryx QSI, a purely private company run by his brother, with QSI, a sovereign Qatari fund with Nasser Al-Khelaifi as president," he said.
According to him, Oryx's payments were perfectly transparent.
The CEO of BeIN Sports, Yousef Al-Obaidly, was also handed preliminary charges of corruption as part of the investigation into Qatar's bidding process for the World Championships.EFE-EPA