Wednesday, April 6, 2016 8:15 pm
The raging winds stirred by Panama Papers has claimed a second casualty, just as it has also spurred Swiss police interest in probing a contract awarded several years ago, by current FIFA president Gianni Infantino, as UEFA secretary-general.
Iceland prime minister was the first to be blown away by the monumental diclosures by the troves of data from a Panamanian law firm on how the rich and powerful opened shell companies and stashed huge fortunes abroad, to avoid tax payments.
Uruguay’s Juan Pedro Damiani is a certain casualty for now as he has resigned from FIFA’s ethics committee after the Panama Papers showed his law firm acted as an intermediary for a disgraced FIFA official.
“We can confirm that Mr. Damiani resigned from his position as member of the adjudicatory chamber of the independent Ethics Committee of FIFA,” panel spokesman Marc Tenbuecken told AFP in an email.
The Panama Papers indicate that Damiani’s firm helped Eugenio Figueredo — the former head of the South American football confederation who is now facing corruption charges in the United States — set up a shell company.
The leaked documents also show that Damiani’s firm acted as a go-between for a Nevada-based company linked to two other people charged with corruption by the US: businessmen Hugo Jinkis and his son Mariano of Argentina.
Damiani, who heads the prestigious Uruguayan club Penarol, has won praise for publicly crusading against corruption in scandal-tained South American football.
He has denied wrongdoing in the Panama Papers case, while FIFA’s ethics watchdog has opened a probe into the matter.
Meanwhile Swiss police raided the European soccer body UEFA Wednesday to seize information about a contract disclosed in the Panama Papers that was signed by Gianni Infantino, now head of the global soccer body FIFA.
The impact of the leaked documents from a Panamanian law firm is snowballing, with Iceland facing a political crisis after its prime minister stepped aside Tuesday following revelations about his wife’s finances.
Recently elected Infantino joined a growing list of public figures and political leaders whose financial arrangements have come under scrutiny after the release of the 11.5 million documents, which have caused public outrage over how the rich and powerful can hide money to avoid taxes.
Infantino said he was “dismayed that his integrity was being doubted” by media reports which said the contract he signed several years ago as a UEFA official sold broadcast rights at a low price to a company which sold them on at a far higher price.
Reuters, which has not seen the documents, was unable to confirm this and UEFA denied that the rights were sold at below the market price.
“UEFA can confirm that today we received a visit from the office of the Swiss Federal Police acting under a warrant and requesting sight of the contracts between UEFA and Cross Trading/Teleamazonas,” UEFA said in a statement.