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Suspicions grow over Russia-Qatar World Cups

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Suspicions grow over Russia-Qatar World Cups
Photo: AFP
14:11 CET+01:00
Swiss investigators examining World Cup corruption say they are looking into a growing list of suspicious financial transactions and want evidence from disgraced Qatari football powerbroker Mohamed bin Hammam.

Switzerland's Office of the Attorney General (OAG) — which is looking into the 2018 and 2022 World Cups — said there are now have more than 120 suspicious transactions linked to Fifa's decision to award the tournaments to Russia and Qatar five years ago.
   
The figure is up from 103 in August.
   
An OAG spokesman told AFP in a statement that the office has received "more than 120" suspicious activity reports from the Swiss Financial intelligence unit, the Money Laundering Reporting Office Switzerland.
   
"These reports are related to the ongoing criminal proceedings around the allocation of the Football World Cup 2018 & 2022."
   
The Zurich-based Fifa executive voted in December 2010 on the 2018 and 2022 World Cups, which have been surrounded by widespread corruption claims. Russia and Qatar have strongly denied any wrongdoing.
   
On Qatar, the Swiss attorney's office confirmed there has been no contact yet with officials in Doha, almost seven months after their investigations began.
   
"So far, no Qatari officials have been questioned," said the OAG spokesman via email.
   
"Obviously, members of the Qatar World Cup Committee are welcome to speak to the OAG as their point of view would be certainly of interest to the OAG."
   
Mohamed bin Hammam, a former Fifa vice president and Asian Football Confederation president, has been a central figure in many of the allegations.
   
"The former head of the AFC is particularly welcome to deliver a statement," the spokesman said.
   
The 66-year-old is seen as a central figure in helping secure Qatar the right to host the 2022 World Cup.
   
A former head of the Qatar Football Association, bin Hammam was also president of the Asian Football Confederation and a member of Fifa's all-powerful executive committee for more than a decade.
   
His downfall came after he challenged Sepp Blatter for the Fifa presidency in 2011.
   
Bribery allegations then surfaced against bin Hammam and he was subsequently banned for life in July 2011.
   
He successfully appealed this but received a second lifetime ban from Fifa in 2012.
   
Nasser al-Khater, the assistant general secretary of Qatar's 2022 organizing committee, told AFP last month they had not heard from investigators in Switzerland.
   
The Swiss probe, expected to last up to six years, is running parallel to a US justice department investigation into corruption at football's world governing body, Fifa.
   
The OAG said it was continuing to monitor suspicious financial transactions.
   
The fifth anniversary of Russia and Qatar winning the right to host the 2018 and 2022 tournaments falls on December 2nd.

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