Council of Europe (CoE) - European Human Rights Court - founding fathers (1949)

Council of Europe (CoE) - European Human Rights Court - founding fathers (1949)
French National Assembly head Edouard Herriot and British Foreign minister Ernest Bevin surrounded by Italian, Luxembourg and other delegates at the first meeting of Council of Europe's Consultative Assembly in Strasbourg, August 1949 (AFP Photo)

EU founding fathers signed 'blank' Treaty of Rome (1957)

EU founding fathers signed 'blank' Treaty of Rome (1957)
The Treaty of Rome was signed in the Palazzo dei Conservatori, one of the Renaissance palaces that line the Michelangelo-designed Capitoline Square in the Italian capital

Shuttered: EU ditches summit 'family photo'

Shuttered: EU ditches summit 'family photo'
EU leaders pose for a family photo during the European Summit at the EU headquarters in Brussels on June 28, 2016 (AFP Photo/JOHN THYS)

Merkel says fall of Wall proves 'dreams can come true'


“ … Here is another one. A change in what Human nature will allow for government. "Careful, Kryon, don't talk about politics. You'll get in trouble." I won't get in trouble. I'm going to tell you to watch for leadership that cares about you. "You mean politics is going to change?" It already has. It's beginning. Watch for it. You're going to see a total phase-out of old energy dictatorships eventually. The potential is that you're going to see that before 2013. They're going to fall over, you know, because the energy of the population will not sustain an old energy leader ..."
"Update on Current Events" – Jul 23, 2011 (Kryon channelled by Lee Carroll) - (Subjects: The Humanization of God, Gaia, Shift of Human Consciousness, 2012, Benevolent Design, Financial Institutes (Recession, System to Change ...), Water Cycle (Heat up, Mini Ice Ace, Oceans, Fish, Earthquakes ..), Nuclear Power Revealed, Geothermal Power, Hydro Power, Drinking Water from Seawater, No need for Oil as Much, Middle East in Peace, Persia/Iran Uprising, Muhammad, Israel, DNA, Two Dictators to fall soon, Africa, China, (Old) Souls, Species to go, Whales to Humans, Global Unity,..... etc.)
(Subjects: Who/What is Kryon ?, Egypt Uprising, Iran/Persia Uprising, Peace in Middle East without Israel actively involved, Muhammad, "Conceptual" Youth Revolution, "Conceptual" Managed Business, Internet, Social Media, News Media, Google, Bankers, Global Unity,..... etc.)


"The Recalibration of Awareness – Apr 20/21, 2012 (Kryon channeled by Lee Carroll) (Subjects: Old Energy, Recalibration Lectures, God / Creator, Religions/Spiritual systems (Catholic Church, Priests/Nun’s, Worship, John Paul Pope, Women in the Church otherwise church will go, Current Pope won’t do it), Middle East, Jews, Governments will change (Internet, Media, Democracies, Dictators, North Korea, Nations voted at once), Integrity (Businesses, Tobacco Companies, Bankers/ Financial Institutes, Pharmaceutical company to collapse), Illuminati (Started in Greece, with Shipping, Financial markets, Stock markets, Pharmaceutical money (fund to build Africa, to develop)), Shift of Human Consciousness, (Old) Souls, Women, Masters to/already come back, Global Unity.... etc.) - (Text version)

… The Shift in Human Nature

You're starting to see integrity change. Awareness recalibrates integrity, and the Human Being who would sit there and take advantage of another Human Being in an old energy would never do it in a new energy. The reason? It will become intuitive, so this is a shift in Human Nature as well, for in the past you have assumed that people take advantage of people first and integrity comes later. That's just ordinary Human nature.

In the past, Human nature expressed within governments worked like this: If you were stronger than the other one, you simply conquered them. If you were strong, it was an invitation to conquer. If you were weak, it was an invitation to be conquered. No one even thought about it. It was the way of things. The bigger you could have your armies, the better they would do when you sent them out to conquer. That's not how you think today. Did you notice?

Any country that thinks this way today will not survive, for humanity has discovered that the world goes far better by putting things together instead of tearing them apart. The new energy puts the weak and strong together in ways that make sense and that have integrity. Take a look at what happened to some of the businesses in this great land (USA). Up to 30 years ago, when you started realizing some of them didn't have integrity, you eliminated them. What happened to the tobacco companies when you realized they were knowingly addicting your children? Today, they still sell their products to less-aware countries, but that will also change.

What did you do a few years ago when you realized that your bankers were actually selling you homes that they knew you couldn't pay for later? They were walking away, smiling greedily, not thinking about the heartbreak that was to follow when a life's dream would be lost. Dear American, you are in a recession. However, this is like when you prune a tree and cut back the branches. When the tree grows back, you've got control and the branches will grow bigger and stronger than they were before, without the greed factor. Then, if you don't like the way it grows back, you'll prune it again! I tell you this because awareness is now in control of big money. It's right before your eyes, what you're doing. But fear often rules. …

Sunday, May 31, 2015

S.Africa admits paying $10 mn but denies FIFA bribe

Yahoo – AFP, Agnes Pedrero, 31 May 2015

FIFA president Sepp Blatter on May 30, 2015 in Zurich after being 
re-elected (AFP Photo/Fabrice Coffrini)

Geneva (AFP) - South Africa admitted Sunday that it paid $10 million in 2008 but denied it was in any way a bribe to FIFA for the 2010 World Cup, in the latest twist to the massive corruption scandal engulfing world football's governing body.

Two separate investigations are being carried out by American and Swiss authorities for alleged rampant and long-running corruption within FIFA, with several top officials arrested and accused by US investigators of taking tens of millions of dollars in bribes.

Several top football officials have been questioned by Swiss investigators, Bern said, and FIFA's president Sepp Blatter too could be quizzed "in the future if needed", according to Swiss prosecutors.

The biggest scandal to rock world football erupted Wednesday when seven FIFA officials were arrested in their Zurich hotel as part of the US probe.

They and seven others were charged for racketeering, wire fraud and money laundering conspiracies that ran from 1991 to present day, and accused of taking or conspiring to solicit for $150 million in bribes.

An example cited in US papers was the 2004 selection process for the 2010 World Cup, with investigators claiming that South African officials paid $10 million to former FIFA vice president Jack Warner -- one of the 14 indicted -- in order to secure the bid.

South African Football Association president Danny Jordaan, pictured on
 May 28, 2015, confirmed that the World Cup organising committee paid 
$10 million in 2008, after South Africa won the bid in May 2004 but
insisted this was not a bribe (AFP Photo)

South African Football Association president Danny Jordaan confirmed on Sunday that the organising committee made a payment of $10 million in 2008 but insisted this was not a bribe.

"I haven't paid a bribe or taken a bribe from anybody in my life. We don't know who is mentioned there (in the indictment)," Jordaan told the Sunday Independent.

"How could we have paid a bribe for votes four years after we had won the bid?" Jordaan said, adding that the payment was South Africa's contribution towards Confederation of North, Central American and Caribbean Association Football's (CONCACAF) football development fund.

Warner was then also president of CONCACAF.

'Out of touch'

Swiss authorities were meanwhile running a parallel probe into allegations of bribery in the process over the controversial awarding of the 2018 and 2022 World Cups to Russia and Qatar.

The Swiss justice spokesman said the top football officials were interviewed as "people who could provide information", without giving further details.

FIFA President Sepp Blatter (L) shakes hands with UEFA President
 Michel Platini after being re-elected, in Zurich on May 29, 2015 (AFP Photo/
Michael Buholzer)

He added that Blatter "will not be questioned at this stage. If necessary, he will be in the future".

Seven senior FIFA officials are believed to be among those heard by investigators -- Confederation of African Football (CAF) president Issa Hayatou (Cameroon), Angel Miguel Villar Llona (Spain), Michel D'Hooge (Belgium), Senes Erzik (Turkey), Marios Lefkaritis (Cyprus), Hany Abo Rida (Egypt) and Vitaly Mutko (Russia).

Two other current members of the Executive Committee who voted in 2010 for Qatar and Russia live in Switzerland -- Blatter and UEFA president Michel Platini.

Swiss investigators were believed to be prioritising those living abroad as they were in town for a FIFA meeting on Saturday.

Blatter, who was re-elected to a fifth term as FIFA president on Friday despite the worst scandal to hit the organisation, has accused US investigators of using the arrests as an attempt "interfere with the congress" that returned him to power.

The 79-year-old Swiss has argued that while many hold him "ultimately responsible for actions and reputation of the global football community", he "cannot monitor everyone all of the time".

In an interview published Sunday by Swiss tabloid SonntagsBlick, Blatter said he "has been treated with zero respect" in the last few days.

He also said he was "very disappointed" by Platini, who has openly asked him to step down from the top job.

Platini has said UEFA will review relations with FIFA on June 6 while English Football Association chief Greg Dyke indicated England could be ready to back a European boycott of the World Cup.

German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier insisted FIFA must make a new start following Blatter's re-election and said football's governing body was out of touch with the sport it serves.

"I have serious doubts that FIFA will be able to handle this massive task without making a serious new start," he told German daily Die Welt on Sunday.

"The gap between the machinations of their officials and the many players, coaches, parents, referees and fans around the world, who with a lot of passion, ensure every week that football lives, could not be greater."

Barclays has launched an internal review into whether its accounts were used 
for corrupt payments by FIFA officials, a banking source told AFP on May 31,
2015 (AFP Photo/Carl Court)

In underlining the far-reaching nature of the scandal, British bank Barclays announced it had launched an internal review into whether its accounts were used for corrupt payments by FIFA officials, a banking source told AFP.

Barclays was among three banks with British headquarters named in the US indictment, which outlined how tens of millions of dollars were hidden in offshore accounts.

Another, Standard Chartered, said Friday that it was looking into two payments cleared by the bank that were mentioned in the indictment.

The third named bank, HSBC, has so far declined to comment.

Britain's Serious Fraud Office said Friday that it "continues actively to assess material in its possession and has made plain that it stands ready to assist ongoing international criminal investigations".

British bank Barclays launches FIFA corruption probe

British bank Barclays has reportedly launched an internal probe into whether company accounts were used for corrupt payments by FIFA officials. The financial institution is one of three banks named in a US indictment.

Deutsche Welle, 31 May 2015


An unnamed banking official told the AFP news agency Sunday that the bank had launched an internal investigation into how its accounts had been used by FIFA officials.

The probe comes after Barclays was cited in a US fraud probe into corruption at FIFA, the world's governing football body.

The accusations come as seven FIFA executives were arrested this week in Zurich.

British law enforcement officials announced Friday there was incriminating evidence against FIFA.

"The Serious Fraud Office is actively investigating the material at hand and has made it clear it is willing to assist international investigations," a spokesperson said in London.

US fraud investigators allege FIFA funds had been distributed amongst accounts with major British banks Barclays, HSBC and Standard Chartered.

'More indictments to come'

US authorities have charged 14 people in connection with the wide-ranging FIFA corruption scandal, said to involve more than $150 million (13.7 million euros).

Richard Weber, the Internal Revenue Service's (IRS) leader of criminal investigations, told "The New York Times" Friday that he foresaw indictments beyond the 14 FIFA officials accused of racketeering and accepting $150 million in bribes to rig marketing contracts and the selection of the host country for the 2010 World Cup.

Weber didn't identify who the IRS might be targeting, or say whether they included newly re-elected FIFA President Joseph "Sepp" Blatter.

"I'm fairly confident that we will have another round of indictments," Weber told the paper.
Blatter 'wrong person'

German Justice Minister Heiko Maas said FIFA would have to relocate the 2018 and 2022 World Cups from Russia and Qatar, respectively, if it turned out that its selection had been bought.

Maas told the German daily "Bild" that "the awarding of a World Cup shouldn't depend on who pays the highest bribes" and called Blatter the wrong person to investigate alleged graft, saying FIFA needed "a fresh start."

Russia President Vladimir Putin has accused US authorities of initiating the corruption probe in order to strip his country of hosting the 2018 World Cup.

jlw/tj (AFP, SID, dpa)

Friday, May 29, 2015

FIFA challenger Ali withdraws from runoff vote with Blatter

Jordan's Prince Ali Bin Al Hussein has withdrawn his bid to become FIFA's next president. This means incumbent Sepp Blatter retains the top job amid a major corruption scandal.

Deutsche Welle, 29 May 2015


Jordan's Prince Ali Bin Al Hussein has withdrawn his bid to challenge Sepp Blatter for the FIFA presidency. A secret vote was set to go to a surprise second round when the announcement was made.

"It has been a wonderful journey," the prince said.

"I want to thank all those brave enough to support me, but I will be withdrawing from the race."

To win in the first round a candidate needed to get a two thirds majority of the 209 member federations in the first round.

Prince Ali garnered 73 votes, while Sepp Blatter managed 133 votes.

In the second round of voting, a simple majority would suffice for Blatter to claim another four-year term atop an organization he has led since 1998.

Both men had promised to change the way the organization was run, with Prince Ali saying world football was at a "crossroads."

He called for a more inclusive approach.

Blatter meanwhile stressed his experience, saying he didn't want to leave FIFA just yet.
In his acceptance speech, Blatter thanked members for keeping him as head.

"I thank you, you have accepted me for the next four years," he said.

"I will be in command of this boat of FIFA, we will bring it back to shore."

FIFA has been hit by a number of scandals in recent years, including claims of worker abuse in building facilities for the 2022 World Cup in Qatar.

The latest and most serious incident saw fourteen people charged over retrospective corruption allegations, leading to calls for Blatter to step down.



He said world football needed "a strong and experienced leader," and that he would work towards "a FIFA that will have enough safeguards which will not need the political interventions."

Earlier in the day, the 39-year-old Jordanian prince had said he would "restore respect for the body we represent," and promised to make it more transparent.

As part of the ceremonies, Blatter and Prince Ali shook hands, customary for officials who are leaving the FIFA executive committee.

Prince Ali had been a FIFA vice president, but opted not to stand for a new term in order to oppose Blatter.

an/msh (AFP, dpa, AP)

Thursday, May 28, 2015

FIFA sponsors pile pressure on Blatter ahead of AGM vote

Yahoo – AFP, Tim Witcher, 28 May 2015

Sponsors are piling pressure on FIFA leader Sepp Blatter to clean up
world football amid two major corruption scandals (AFP Photo)

Zurich (AFP) - Sponsors piled pressure on FIFA leader Sepp Blatter to clean up world football as two major corruption scandals overshadowed the start of a congress Thursday at which he will seek a new term.

The beleaguered 79-year-old president met with the heads of all six football confederations on Thursday, according to sources who gave no details about the talks.

Amid some calls for him to stand down. Blatter remains favourite to win the presidential election on Friday however.

Credit card giant Visa said it would "reassess" its sponsorship of FIFA unless it takes immediate action after the arrest of top FIFA leaders accused by US authorities of taking huge bribes.

While Swiss police are investigating the award of the 2018 and 2022 World Cups to Russia and Qatar, US documents indicate that South Africa paid bribes to FIFA officials to secure the 2010 World Cup.

Visa said that unless FIFA rebuilds a corporate culture with "strong ethical practices" at its heart, "we have informed them that we will reassess our sponsorship".

Coca-Cola, Adidas, McDonald's and Budweiser all spoke out against the corruption scandal. Corporate backers provide hundreds of millions of dollars to FIFA's finances.

No plan to question Blatter

FIFA's annual congress starts in Zurich on Thursday but its leader stayed out of the public eye as the corruption storm grew.

FBI agents remove documents from the headquarters of the CONCACAF 
soccer organization after a raid on May 27, 2015 in Miami Beach, Florida 
(AFP Photo/Diego Urdaneta)

But Swiss authorities said Thursday there were no plans as yet to question Blatter.

"For the time being, there are no plans to question the FIFA president," Andre Marty, a spokesman for the office of Switzerland's attorney general, told AFP in an email.

UEFA, Europe's governing body, has called for the presidential vote to be postponed and was to meet Thursday to decide whether to boycott the election.

"These events show, once again, that corruption is deeply rooted in FIFA's culture," UEFA said in a statement.

Some European leaders even renewed calls for Blatter to resign.

"Sepp Blatter has to go as FIFA president," said Greg Dyke, chairman of the English Football Association, which lost out to Russia for the 2018 tournament.

England is among the major backers of Blatter's only remaining challenger for the presidency, Prince Ali bin al Hussein, a FIFA vice president from Jordan.

But FIFA remain adamant that the congress and vote will go ahead.

And African and Asian confederations have reaffirmed their support for Blatter.

Asian Football Conferation members hold 47 of the 209 votes in the FIFA election, behind the Confederation of African Football (56 votes) and UEFA (54).

And both the AFC and CAF have said they oppose any delay in the elections.

Seven football officials, including two FIFA vice presidents, remained in Swiss custody on Thursday after their arrest at the FIFA hotel in Zurich early Wednesday.

Six of the seven have indicated they will fight extradition to the United States, Swiss authorities said.

US authorities said nine football officials in all were among 14 people facing up to 20 years in jail if found guilty in the long-running corruption case involving more than $150 million in bribes.

Acting US Attorney Kelly Currie of the Eastern District of New York speaks
 during the announcement of charges against FIFA officials at a news conference
on May 27, 2015 in New York (AFP Photo/Don Emmert)

Fraud probe goes on

US authorities indicated that more charges could follow.

Russian President Vladimir Putin, however, slammed the arrests as an attempt by Washington to oust Blatter.

"This is clearly an attempt to block the reelection of Blatter as president of FIFA and is an extremely serious breach of the principles of how international organisations work," Putin said in televised comments broadcast Thursday, accusing the United States of trying to "spread its jurisdiction to other countries".

Blatter said it was a "difficult time" for the world body, and added that he would not tolerate misconduct by FIFA officials.

"Let me be clear: such misconduct has no place in football and we will ensure that those who engage in it are put out of the game," Blatter said in a statement.

FIFA vice presidents Jeffrey Webb -- the current CONCACAF chief -- and Eugenio Figueredo, a former head of the South American confederation, were among the seven arrested by Zurich police.

Jack Warner, a former vice president, appeared in a Port of Spain court Wednesday before a judge who set his bail at $394,000, according to Trinidad and Tobago media.

Warner was ordered to hand over his passport and check in with police twice a week before a hearing over whether to extradite him to the United States in July, according to the reports.

Warner has denied any wrongdoing. But two of his sons have pleaded guilty to charges related to the US investigation into bribery and kickbacks involving FIFA officials and sports marketing firms.

US agents also raided the Miami headquarters of CONCACAF, the confederation for North and Central America.

The US investigation said South African officials paid $10 million in bribes to host the 2010 tournament. Some bribes were handed over in a briefcase stuffed with $10,000 bundles of cash.

But the South African government on Thursday denied any wrongdoing.

"When we concluded the FIFA World Cup here in South Africa we got a clean audit report," said Minister in the Presidency Jeff Radebe, who was on the local organising committee.

"There has never been any suggestion that anything untoward happened in South Africa."

Related Article:


Small Dutch newspaper to boycott Fifa sponsors

DutchNews.nl, May 28, 2015

The editor-in-chief of Dutch newspaper Nederlands Dagblad says he does not want to see any adverts from Fifa sponsors in his paper until they have ‘converted’. 

Sjirk Kuijper used Twitter to say he did not expect advertising from Coca-Cola, McDonald’s, Hyundai, Visa and Adidas and uses the hashtag #Fifamaffia.  His decision follows the arrest of seven senior Fifa officials in an investigation into corruption on Wednesday. 

Kuijper also says he wants to change the paper’s editorial statutes to ensure the 2022 World Cup in Qatar is not covered either, broadcaster Nos reports. 

Nederlands Dagblad has a circulation of some 20,000 and is read mainly by orthodox Protestants. It does not cover sport in any depth. 

Dutch sport marketer Bob van Oosterhout told Nos Fifa’s sponsors are already uneasy about the organisation’s reputation. 

Four major sponsors have already pulled out in the past year, including Sony and airline Emirates, he said.

Related Article:


Methodist Church in Britain apologises for historical abuse

Institution makes public apology after independent investigation unearths nearly 2,000 reported cases of abuse dating to 1950

The Guardian, Caroline Davies, Thursday 28 May 2015

The Methodist Church in Britain says it wants to be open about the past
to ensure stronger safeguarding procedures in the future. Photograph:
Cultura RM/Alamy

The Methodist Church in Britain has issued an “unreserved apology” for failing to protect children and adults after an independent investigation identified 1,885 reports of physical and sexual abuse within the institution dating back to the 1950s.

In a 100-page report published by the church on Thursday, ministers or lay employees are said to have been involved in a quarter of the cases, which included sexual, physical, emotional and domestic abuse as well as neglect.

In the 200 cases concerning ministers, 102 were of a sexual nature. There were six ongoing police investigations.

The report, called Courage, Cost and Hope, follows a three-year independent review commissioned by the church to “learn lessons of the past” and to make the church “safe for all”. The report’s author, Jane Stacey, called for major and far-reaching changes “both in practice and culture”.

Children’s charity NSPCC described it as a horrifying catalogue of abuse.

Rev Dr Martyn Atkins, general secretary of the Methodist Conference, said it was “deeply regrettable” that the church had “not always listened properly to those abused”.

“On behalf of the Methodist Church in Britain I want to express an unreserved apology for the failure of its current and earlier processes fully to protect children, young people and adults from physical and sexual abuse inflicted by some ministers,” Atkins said in a statement.

“The abuse that has been inflicted by some Methodists on children, young people and adults is and will remain a deep source of grief and shame to the church.”

The review looked at safeguarding cases for which there were written records, and also cases recalled from memory by ministers and church members going back to 1950. Cases examined include those that occurred within a church context and those reported to the church but which occurred away from it. Alleged perpetrators ranged from ministers to church attendees.

It examined each case to review whether the church’s response had been safe, pastorally appropriate and compliant with legislation, and whether it had been referred to police, if that was deemed appropriate, or if other remedial action had been taken.

Stacey, former deputy chief executive of children’s charity Barnardo’s, said religious ministers were in an “almost unique position of trust” often at vulnerable times in people’s lives. She told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme there needed to be more robust accountability structures.

One case concerned the grooming of teenage girls on Facebook; another involved a youth officer who had indecent images of children on his computer.

Among victims who came forward was a man in his 30s, allegedly abused in the early 1990s by a church youth worker, who is now a lay pastor and youth worker in four churches. The alleged perpetrator has been suspended while a police investigation takes place.

The review found four alleged victims of a minister jailed for sexually assaulting children. Two of the alleged victims had made complaints which are being investigated by police. The minister was allowed to retire on compassionate grounds, which caused great offence to victims and their families, the report said.

Of the 1,885 cases, 187 alleged perpetrators were still alive and known to safeguarding teams. More than half (1,011) of the cases were closed as there was no longer an identifiable risk, while 687 cases (36%) were open to further action. Around half (914) of all cases were of a sexual nature. In 241 responses the respondent felt that matters were not left safely and that there may still be a risk to children or vulnerable adults.

Children aged under 18 made up 34% of victims. Those over 18 made up 31%, and the ages of the rest were unknown. Almost half (46%) of victims in the cases were female, and 19% male but in 29% the gender of the vicim was unknown.

One victim told the review team: “I have learned that it is impossible to recover from sexual abuse when no one recognises the seriousness of it. My church did not want a scandal, my parents did not want a scandal. I was left to feel worthless and devalued, while the man was left to get on with his life and, for all I know, repeat the crime with someone else. “

Others welcomed the report and opportunity to tell their story. “A candle is lit and it is no longer completely dark,” said one. “I want to prevent the church and other people from handling things wrong in the future. I don’t want other girls to suffer like I have”.

The NSPCC said: “This is a horrifying catalogue of abuse that the Methodist Church has revealed by confronting the dark side of its history. Having the courage to come clean about the extent of abuse, [the church] must now have measures in place to ensure there are no more such incidents and all children they have dealings with are given the protection and support they deserve.”

Law firm Leigh Day, representing a group of individuals taking action against the Methodist Church who allege they were abused by a church missionary in Africa in the 1980s, welcomed the investigation. “It has taken my clients over 30 years to have the courage to come forward with their allegations of abuse against the Methodist Church,” said Nichola Marshall, the firm’s head of international abuse.

“They welcome this public acknowledgment by the Methodist Church as they have faced criticism and disapproval from members of the community for speaking out in the past”.

Related Article:


Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Coca-Cola says corruption has 'tarnished' the World Cup

Hours after news of the ‘hijacking’ accusations broke, Coca-Cola became the first major sponsor to call for Fifa to put its house in order

The Guardian, Dominic Rushe, Wednesday 27 May 2015

Goalkeeper Tim Krul of the Netherlands and Costa Rican player Giancarlo
 Gonzales during the penalty shootout of the Fifa World Cup 2014 quarter
final match. Photograph: Antonio Lacerda/EPA

Coca-Cola, one of football’s biggest sponsors, said Wednesday the allegations of corruption now swirling around Fifa, soccer’s governing body, have “tarnished” the reputation of the World Cup.

Hours after the justice department accused nine senior current or former Fifa officials of “hijacking” international football to run “a World Cup of fraud”, Coca-Cola became the first major sponsor to call for the organisation to put its house in order.

“This lengthy controversy has tarnished the mission and ideals of the Fifa World Cup and we have repeatedly expressed our concerns about these serious allegations. We expect Fifa to continue to address these issues thoroughly. Fifa has stated that it is responding to all requests for information and we are confident it will continue to cooperate fully with the authorities,” the company said in a statement.

Coca-Cola has had sponsorship deals at every World Cup since 1950 and currently has signed up to be a top-tier sponsor alongside Adidas, Anheuser-Busch InBev, Hyundai-Kia and Visa until 2022. The World Cup is responsible for more than 90% of Fifa’s income.

The corruption allegations are likely to prove a major embarrassment for some of the world’s largest corporations who use the tournament to reach a global audience. More than a billion people tuned in for last year’s final between Germany and Argentina.

Coca-Cola has previously criticised Fifa’s handling of its long-term corruption investigations. Last year the company spoke out after Fifa’s own ethics investigator disowned a long-awaited probe into the controversial bidding process for the 2018 and 2022 World Cups.

After Fifa gave the bids the all-clear, Michael Garcia, the former attorney for the southern district of New York hired as part of a drive to revive Fifa’s image, complained the report contained “numerous materially incomplete and erroneous representations of the facts”.

In a statement last November, Coca-Cola said: “Anything that detracts from the mission and ideals of the Fifa World Cup is a concern to us. The current conflicting perspectives regarding the investigation are disappointing. Our expectation is that this will be resolved quickly in a transparent and efficient manner.”

Fifa officials pocketed $150m from 'World Cup of fraud' – US prosecutors

  • US attorney general alleges ‘rampant, systemic and deep-rooted’ racket
  • Nine current or former officials charged alongside marketing executives

The Guardian, Rupert Neate, New York, Wednesday 27 May 2015

Fifa officials ‘corrupted’ football by accepting millions in bribes, says US attorney general

Fifa corruption arrests: key questions
answered
America’s top prosecutors on Wednesday accused nine senior current or former Fifa officials of “hijacking” international football to run “a World Cup of fraud” to line their pockets by $150m.

Loretta Lynch, the US attorney general, said the Fifa officials had allegedly run a “rampant, systemic and deep-rooted” scheme to “acquire millions of dollars in bribes and kickbacks”.

As she announced charges against the nine officials, seven of whom were arrested in dawn raids at a five-star hotel in Switzerland, Lynch said: “They were expected to uphold the rules that keep soccer honest, and protect the integrity of the game. Instead, they corrupted the business of worldwide soccer to serve their interests and enrich themselves.”

Lynch said the nine Fifa officials, including former Fifa vice-president Jack Warner, and five sports marketing executives had run “a 24-year scheme to enrich themselves through the corruption of international soccer”.

She alleged that the bribery and corruption extended from the sale of TV rights to voting for which countries should be awarded the right to hold the World Cup and other tournaments.

“These individuals and organizations engaged in bribery to decide who would televise games; where the games would be held; and who would run the organization overseeing organized soccer worldwide,” Lynch said.

“They corrupted the business of worldwide soccer to serve their interests and enrich themselves. They did this over and over, year after year, tournament after tournament.”

Lynch said she would seek the extradition of the men to the US to stand trial as soon as possible. If found guilty of racketeering, the most serious of the 47 charges, some of the men face up to 20 years in jail.

She refused to comment on whether Sepp Blatter, the current president of Fifa who is seeking re-election for a fifth term on Friday, would be subject to the far-reaching and ongoing investigation.

Lynch said Fifa would need to consider whether the World Cups in Russia in 2018 and Qatar in 2022, which have long been plagued with allegations of fraud, should go ahead as planned.

Kelly Curries, the acting US attorney for the eastern district of New York, said: “This is the beginning of our effort, not the end. We are looking into individuals and entities in a variety of countries.” There are 25 unnamed co-conspirators mentioned in the indictment, including people linked to the South Africa 2010 World Cup bid committee.

The charges were announced at a press conference in New York on Wednesday hosted by Lynch, who was flanked by senior officials from the FBI and the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) criminal investigations unit.

Richard Weber, the chief investigator of the IRS criminal investigations unit, said: “This is really the World Cup of fraud and today we are issuing Fifa a red card,” adding: “The fans shouldn’t have to worry about officials corrupting their sport.”

James Comey, the director of the FBI, said the game had been “hijacked by corruption”.

The current or former Fifa officials charged are Eduardo Li, Jeffrey Webb, Eugenio Figueredo, Jack Warner, Julio Rocha, Costas Takkas, Rafael Esquivel, José Maria Marin and Nicolás Leoz. Warner and Leoz were not among those arrested in Switzerland; Leoz resigned as president of the South American Football Confederation in 2013, while Warner stood down from all international football positions in 2011.

EU, Switzerland sign tax info exchange deal

The European Union and Switzerland have inked an agreement on the automatic exchange of bank account data. It had been billed as a milestone in the authorities' fight against large-scale tax evasion.

Deutsche Welle, 27 May 2015


The EU and Switzerland on Wednesday signed a major accord aimed at efficiently curbing banking secrecy for EU residents and preventing them from hiding undeclaredincome in Swiss banks.

The deal was inked in Brussels by Pierre Moscovici, the European Commissioner responsible for taxation matters, and Jacques de Watteville, the Swiss secretary of state for international financial affairs.

"The agreement deals another blow against tax evaders and represents another leap towards fairer taxation in Europe," Moscovici said in a statement.

Aiming for more transparency

The accord will take effect in 2018. Under it, the EU and Switzerland will automatically exchange information on the bank accounts held by their respective residents.

Data to be shared on an annual basis include the names of account holders, their addresses, tax registration numbers and birthdays as well as the amount of money they hold in their accounts.

"This new transparency should not only improve member states' ability to track down and tackle tax evaders, but also act as a deterrent against hiding income and assets abroad," the European Commission argued.

Brussels is currently negotiating similar deals with Andorra, Liechtenstein, Monaco and San Marino and is expecting to sign relevant accords by the end of the year.

hg/sri (AFP, Reuters)

Camorra mob boss arrested in Brazil after 30 years on the run

Brazilian police have captured Pasquale Scotti, one of the most wanted mobsters in Italy, officials have said. The fugitive had started a new life in Brazil after changing his name and appearance.

Deutsche Welle, 27 May 2015


Pasquale Scotti was arrested in the northeastern Brazilian city of Recife, in a joint operation with Interpol, Brazilian police announced Tuesday. The former boss of the Camorra crime syndicate had been on the run since the mid-1980s, and was convicted for more than 20 homicides by an Italian court.

The 56-year old Scotti was seized while driving his two teenage daughters to school, according to the AFP news agency.

Before his arrest, Scotti had been living in Recife for 28 years, under a name of Francisco de Castro Visconti. He used false identification, taxpayer and voter registration documents, and apparently underwent several plastic surgery procedures, the police have said.

The fugitive has also married a Brazilian woman, and owned a real estate and a fireworks company.

The man told the police that not even his Brazilian family knew his true identity, and that he wanted to "forget his past; that Pasquale Scotti no longer existed. Only Francisco de Castro exists," according to the head of Interpol's Brazilian operation, Federal olice officer Valdecy Urquiza Junior.

The former mafia boss also said that he left Italy out of fear of being killed.

Escape from the hospital

Italian authorities managed to arrest Scotti, a known member of Naples mafia, after a shootout in 1983. Scotti has suffered several gunshot during the gun battle.

On Christmas Eve of 1984, he managed to escape the hospital where he was treated after signing a plea bargain. Despite a series of raids and road blocks, Italian police were not able to locate him.

"He left no traces. It's as if he vanished," Italian police were quoted as saying in a La Repubblica article from the time.

The Camorra chief was later convicted in absentia by an Italian court for illegal possession of firearms, extortion and dozens of murders.

Italy's most wanted

On Tuesday, Brazilian police said that Scotti was indentified by comparing archived fingerprints. The Italian authorities have started the process leading to his extradition, officials have said.

Italian Interior Minister Angelino Alfano praised the arrest as an "extraordinary" success, underling that Scotti was among the most sought and dangerous fugitives on Italy's most-wanted list.

dj/rc (Reuters, AFP, dpa, AP)

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Amazon starts declaring sales to pay taxes in 4 European countries

Yahoo – AFP, Anne Lec'hvien, 26 may 2015

Amazon says it has started declaring sales in four European countries that
would now be subject to local taxes (AFP Photo/Leon Neal)

Paris (AFP) - Online retail giant Amazon said Tuesday it has started declaring sales in four European countries which would now be subject to local taxes, a move that could affect other multinationals under EU investigation for possible tax avoidance.

Amazon has tax agreements in Luxembourg under which it recorded European sales and paid taxes on them in the tiny country instead of at the source. The deal had provoked howls of criticism that the Internet giant was trying to avoid taxes, and sparked a probe by the European Commission.

But the Seattle-based Internet giant said it has established local branches in Britain, Germany, Spain and Italy.

"More than two years ago we began the process of establishing local country branches of Amazon EU Sarl, our primary retail operating company in Europe," the company said in a statement.

The European Commission is investigating
 tax agreements involving US tech giant
Apple in Ireland (AFP Photo/Philippe
Huguen)
"As of May 1, Amazon EU Sarl is recording retail sales made to customers through these branches in the UK, Germany, Spain and Italy," it said.

"Previously, these retail sales were recorded in Luxembourg. We are working on opening a branch for France."

While it would seem obvious that companies pay taxes in the countries they generate revenue, many multinationals use various methods to shift profits to countries like Luxembourg that have lower tax rates.

This practice is legal, but has become increasingly contested in Europe, especially at a time when countries are facing huge budget deficits.

Amazon is among several large businesses under the spotlight in Europe over tax deals in Luxembourg and elsewhere.

The European Commission is also investigating tax agreements involving US tech giant Apple in Ireland, coffee-shop chain Starbucks in the Netherlands, and Italian automaker Fiat in Luxembourg.

Ricardo Cardoso, a Commission spokesman in charge of competition issues, said Amazon's changes "going forward do not affect the ongoing EU state aid investigation regarding the possible advantages that Amazon would have potentially received in the past through the tax ruling."

'Unbelievable admission'

Amazon's announcement Tuesday "is an unbelievable admission," said economist Thomas Piketty on French radio. He added that claims should be made for past years and that there should be a common tax on businesses in Europe.

In Germany, one of the countries where Amazon says it will start paying local taxes on sales, at least one official was sceptical.

Norbert Walter-Borjans, regional finance minister in North Rhine-Westphalia, Germany's most populous state, said Amazon had not given details on how it would account for sales in each country, much less in each region.

European policy "still offers too many loopholes," said Walter-Borjans, cited by the German news agency DPA.

Britain's tax authority, HMRC, said it would "examine Amazon's new UK tax structure carefully to ensure that they pay the correct tax on profits from their UK sales."

In March Britain put in place what it called a "Google tax" -- named after the US Internet search giant which also has been criticised for tax avoidance -- which puts a 25 percent tax on companies accused of diverting profits abroad.

"Time is running out for multinationals to get their affairs in order," warned the HMRC.

Pressure against tax avoidance has also been mounting on the international level with the G20 and Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) leading a global push against so-called tax avoidance or tax optimisation.

"Amazon's decision shows that at the political level, there needs to be support for adopting, under the aegis of the G20, a strong plan against fiscal optimisation," Pascal Saint-Amans, OECD director of fiscality told AFP.

The tax advocacy group Tax Justice Network said on its website that "the political mood... seems to be consistently moving in one direction: against the abuses.

"As public understanding and knowledge of this global scandal continues, we expect this trend to continue," it added.

However, one tax lawyer described the move as being more tactical than strategic for Amazon, designed to improve its public image and put pressure on its competitors to do the same.

Laurent Leclercq, a tax lawyer at the Fidal, France's largest business law firm, said Amazon "isn't necessarily profitable" in each country and thus wouldn't pay taxes.

The company posted a loss of $57 million (52 million euros) in the first quarter of this year.