The criminal hearings into the collapse of FIFA’s former marketing partners ISL have ended with defendants blaming the company’s failure at the feet of FIFA.
Six former executives of ISL and its parent company ISMM are facing charges of criminal mismanagement in a trial that has also revealed how ISL paid large bribes to high-ranking sports officials in its efforts to earn lucrative contracts.
“The only thing we did was to try our hardest to rescue a company in which we had invested our heart’s blood,” former ISMM CEO Daniel Beauvois told the court in his final address.
“If we failed, it was not due to a lack of ability but because our main business partners did all that they could to make sure we did not survive, allowing another company with FIFA at its head to take over our operations.”
Judge Carole Ziegler said the court would reconvene on July 2 to deliver its verdicts.
ISL’s collapse in 2001 with estimated debts of more than £150m left FIFA with a huge hole in its finances and prompted the organisation to instigate proceedings against its former partners.
However, several of the defendants claimed that it was FIFA’s deliberate decision to pull out of an agreed joint rescue package for ISL that led to the company’s failure.
FIFA has since said it will not comment on the trial until the verdicts are announced.
During the trial, state prosecutor Marc von Dach argued FIFA was one of several parties criminally damaged by the defendants’ activities in the run-up to the company’s collapse.
He has called for prison sentences of up to 4-1/2 years on charges including fraud, embezzlement and fraudulent bankruptcy.
All the defendants have pleaded not guilty to the charges and have demanded compensation from the court.