The lawyer of the Paris Saint-Germain boss who has been charged with corruption has filed a motion to declare the judge incompetent saying the “Nasser bashing” case is baseless, scandalous and full of lies.
The Qatari president of Paris Saint-Germain (PSG), Nasser Al-Khelaifi, 45, has been charged with corruption over 3.5 million USD (2.76 million GBP) allegedly paid to Lamine Diack, former President of the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF).
The businessman, under investigation since March, faces an “active corruption” charge from French Judge Renaud Van Ruymbeke over Qatar’s failed bid to be the host of the 2017 World Athletics Championship which was awarded to London. Yousef Al-Obaidly, beIN Media Group’s current boss, has also been charged.
Speaking to French newspaper L’Equipe, lawyer Francis Szpiner said that “there is no case”, adding that “the corruption is said to have taken place via a direct transfer from the corrupter to the corrupted. Frankly, a more sophisticated mechanism would have been found so as not to leave a trace. I am appalled at the reasons which have been put forward.”
Szpiner said he “explained to Mr Van Ruymbeke” that it was all a “misunderstanding”, adding that he had “confused the Oryx-QSI company with QSI, the Qatar fund which is the owner of the PSG, of which Mr Al-Khelaifi is the president. At Oryx-QSI, my client never had signatory powers and in 2011 he was neither a shareholder nor a director of the company.”
The PSG boss reportedly missed a summons on 16th May and Szpiner said the judge had rejected their request for an extension they asked for because Al-Khelaifi was at the Emir of Qatar Cup final.
“My client, Mr Al-Khelaifi, is criticised for things he did not do. And there is not the slightest evidence of corruption, especially since Qatar did not have the World Athletics Championships in 2017.”
Regarding the alleged 3.5-million-USD payment, Szpiner said: “Papodzi, the company belonging to Papa Massata Diack [Ex-IAAF chief Lamine Diack’s son], was mandated by the Japanese company Dentsu to manage the IAAF’s marketing rights in so-called emerging countries.”
He added: “The money did not go to Lamine Diack, president of the International Athletics Federation and my client never validated any payments. All this is false and scandalous.”
He said that he had sent the judge a “very firm” letter and had filed a motion on Thursday to have the court deem itself incompetent, adding that he is considering taking the case to the Paris Court of Appeals.
Mr Szpiner does not believe a French court can rule on the case as it involves a Qatari company paying money to a Senegalese company for an International Federation headquartered in Monaco, saying the case amounts to “Nasser bashing”.
Le Monde have reported that Al-Khelaifi may be on his way out of PSG, with Qatar national team boss Felix Sanchez Bas touted as a potential replacement for his post.
Al-Khelaifi also faces a corruption charge in Switzerland over TV rights for the 2026 and 2030 FIFA World Cups. He is suspected of having bribed Jerome Valcke, ex-FIFA boss Sepp Blatter’s former right-hand man. Gregoire Mangeat, the PSG boss’ lawyer in Switzerland reportedly said his client “contests” the charges.
Once called the “most powerful man in French football”, Al-Khelaifi is also a Qatar government minister and reportedly has close ties to the Qatar’s Emir, Tamim Al Thani, a childhood friend.
The 2019 edition of the IAAF World Championships will take place from 27th September to 6th October in Qatar.