ZUG, Switzerland: Six executives of the now defunct soccer rights marketing giant ISL/ISMM – all unidentified thanks to Switzerland's strict legal privacy rules – deny charges of embezzlement, fraud, fraudulent bankruptcy and falsification of documents.
It is alleged that they channelled SF18 million ($17.49m; €11.41m; £8.73m) in bribes to sports officials via the secretive fiscal conduit of Liechtenstein. The demi-dozen deny all charges.
ISL/ISMM, marketing partner of soccer's world governing body FIFA (Fédération Internationale de Football Association) for two decades, collapsed in 2001 with debts estimated at $300 million.
The bankruptcy also led to clashes between the game's world governing body FIFA and its European counterpart UEFA, which questioned FIFA president Sepp Blatter's handling of the marketing deals.
No current or former FIFA officials are among the accused, although it was that body which initially filed a fraud complaint against two individuals following the collapse.
Blatter, who is eager to pursue civil proceedings depending on the outcome of the criminal trial, insists his organisation's hands are clean.
"The court has said very clearly that no officials or staff members of FIFA are among the accused. We look forward to this trial and to the ruling."
The case is expected to occupy about seven days bridging March and April, with verdicts slated for the summer. If found guilty the accused face up to four-and-a-half years in prison.
Data sourced from multiple origins; additional content by WARC staff