With the threat of criminal charges looming over him, FIFA President, Sepp Blatter has taken a significant step towards protecting himself by hiring big-wig American lawyer, Richard Cullen.
The apex soccer body is going through a terrible phase right now, with more and more information about its financial misdeeds emerging.
While the Swiss-born football head honcho hasn’t yet been charged with anything, it seems to be only a matter of time before the investigations lead right up to him.
After all, he has been at the helm of FIFA for more than 17 years and has been responsible for its phenomenal growth and accumulation of wealth.
Blatter seems to be expecting to hear bad news emerging from the anti-corruption probe being headed by the United States government.
Richard Cullen is a very powerful and well-known lawyer based in Virginia. Formerly a U.S. federal prosecutor, Cullen heads the law firm McGuireWoods.
He is also known to be very close to James Comey, the Director of the FBI. Blatter has also hired famous Zurich lawyer Lorenz Erni
According to the indictment documents placed before the public by US Attorney General Loretta Lynch, FIFA has been involved in a lot of bribery and corruption, with a single bribe even amounting to $10 million.
The total amount of bribe money uncovered so far is in excess of an astounding $150 million!
As of now, nine members of FIFA have been caught in the FBI dragnet to weed out money laundering, racketeering and wire fraud in the global football organisation.
While the FBI doesn’t have anything on Blatter as yet, some of the people charged are very close associates of his and they have been on the FIFA executive committee for many years.
The Swiss government is co-operating with the Americans in this exercise and has conducted a number of raids in Zurich in this connection, some of them even leading to arrests.
Many of these people can also expect to be extradited to the United States.
Blatter has been under a lot of pressure to step down and there was a concerted effort to defeat him in the recently concluded elections at FIFA.
However, he did win but almost immediately proceeded to stun the world by offering to resign.
While he hasn’t yet stepped down from the post, his actions have led people to believe that he has something to hide.
The Swiss government is also targeting FIFA, with prosecutor Michael Lauber leading the investigation of as many as 53 doubtful bank transactions.
It is understood that he will soon summon the FIFA president and also General Secretary Jerome Valcke as part of the investigations.
For his part, Valcke has hired American defence attorney Barry Berke.
It seems unlikely that Blatter will be able to escape unscathed, considering that a long time associate of his in FIFA United States, Chuck Blazer, has been assisting the authorities with their probe against the soccer organisation and is expected to testify against his former colleagues.
Blatter definitely needs all the help he can get and Cullen is the right man to do this!