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Disgraced Fifa bosses split US$80m in pay, severance

[GENEVA] Fifa's three former top officials - including ousted ex-president Sepp Blatter - awarded themselves more than 79 million Swiss francs (S$109 million) over the past five years from bonuses, incentives and salary increases, some of which probably broke Swiss law, according to soccer's global governing body.

Details of the contracts for Mr Blatter, former Fifa secretary-general Jerome Valcke and former chief financial officer Markus Kattner have been handed to the Swiss Attorney General and will be shared with the US Department of Justice, Fifa said Friday in a statement. All three men had already been suspended or fired by Fifa.

Local authorities said they raided Fifa's offices a day ago. Swiss and US prosecutors are leading a series of investigations into allegations of corruption in soccer and the awarding of the 2018 and 2022 World Cups to Russia and Qatar. On the eve of Fifa's presidential election in Zurich last May, seven Fifa officials were arrested and subsequently extradited to the US to face corruption charges. Though Mr Blatter was re-elected, he resigned days later amid the outrage over the corruption allegations.

Mr Valcke was eligible for a maximum severance of 17.6 million Swiss francs, and Mr Kattner, who was also deputy secretary-general, could get 9.8 million francs, according to a 2011 contract released by Fifa. The severance contracts, along with 8 1/2-year contract extensions for the pair, were negotiated on the eve of the 2011 Fifa presidential election, "when it was uncertain whether Mr Blatter was going to be reelected," Fifa said in its statement.

According to Fifa, Mr Blatter signed off on Mr Valcke's employment agreement, and both approved Mr Kattner's. The president's contract was approved by the late Julio Grondona, Fifa's finance chief and Mr Blatter ally before his 2014 death.

"The evidence appears to reveal a coordinated effort by three former top officials of Fifa to enrich themselves through annual salary increases, World Cup bonuses and other incentives," Bill Burck, a lawyer with Quinn Emmanuel which represents Fifa, said in the statement.

The contracts also provided for Mr Kattner and Mr Valcke to be paid the full value of their contracts and have their legal fees and fines paid by Fifa even if they were fired for cause, according to the statement. Both clauses appear to violate Swiss law, Fifa said.

A lawyer for Mr Blatter didn't immediately respond to a request for comment. Attempts to reach Mr Kattner and Mr Valcke through the Swiss phone directory and through Fifa were unsuccessful.

Mr Blatter was suspended by Fifa in October and then had an 8-year ban cut to 6 years in February. Mr Kattner was fired by Fifa last month for breaking responsibilities tied to his employment contract," the sports body said. Mr Valcke was dismissed in January.

The Swiss Attorney General's Office said it searched Fifa's Zurich headquarters Thursday as part of its ongoing probe and took some documents and electronic data.

Mr Blatter was suspended by Fifa over a 2 million-franc payment he made to ex-European soccer chief Michel Platini. Both men denied wrongdoing, saying the payment fulfilled an oral contract between the two for services that Mr Platini, a former star of the French national team, provided to Fifa from 1998 through 2002.

Details of Mr Blatter's compensation include bonuses of between 11 million and 12 million francs for the 2010 and 2014 World Cup tournaments, and annual "representation expenses" of 500,000 francs.