PSG president chooses not to play ball over ‘corruption’

Amid on-going allegations of corruption against Doha over the recent IAAF World Athletics Championships, Qatari businessman and President of Paris Saint-Germain (PSG) Nasser bin Ghanim Al-Khelaifi, has kept silent.

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This during questioning by French prosecutors on Doha’s candidacy to stage the championships, according to official documents seen by AFP on Monday. “I exercise my right to silence,” the Qatari replied to each of the 28 questions put to him at the June 11 in Paris.

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Al-Khelaifi’s lawyers said he had good reason not to provide responses at the hearing (Image: Getty Images).

He was charged in May in connection with Doha’s candidacy to stage the championships, AFP continued to report, after the Qatari capital lost out to London in 2017. However, Qatar beat off Eugene and Barcelona for the 2019 edition, which took place at the Khalifa International Stadium between September 27 and October 6.

Al-Khelaifi’s lawyers, Francis Szpiner and Renaud Semerdjian, told AFP that their client had refused to cooperate as “all the useful answers had already been supplied [and] there were no new elements since the last interview,” they offered.

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Al-Khelaifi, who is also the boss of Qatari television channel BeIN Sports, was reportedly unable to attend when first summoned for questioning by investigators. At the time, he is said to have availed himself for a domestic cup final fixture in Qatar.

AFP further reported that French prosecutors are looking specifically at two payments of $3,5 million (about R52 million) made by Oryx Qatar Sports Investment, a company run by Nasser’s brother Khalid Al-Khelaifi, to a sports marketing firm run by Papa Massata Diack in 2011. He is the son of the former president of the IAAF, Lamine Diack, who was on November 1, 2015, arrested in France.

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Al-Khelaifi was charged in May of this year in connection with Doha’s candidacy to stage the World Athletics Championships (Image: AFP).

Reports at the time suggested that the former IAAF president was under investigation for corruption and money laundering, after he allegedly accepted $1.2 million (about R18 million) from the All-Russia Athletic Federation to cover up the positive doping tests of at least six Russian athletes, also in 2011.

Diack was IAAF president from 1999 to 2015 and a member of the International Olympic Committee (IOC). Al-Khelaifi has denied any wrongdoing.