(CNN) — A Swiss probe into corruption allegations surrounding the next two World Cups has grown to include 81 acts of suspicious financial activity now under investigation, it has been announced.
The office of the attorney general “received as of (Sunday) 81 suspicious activity reports trough the Money Laundering Reporting Office Switzerland (MROS),” spokesman Andre Marty told CNN via email.
He confirmed that all reports were in relation to the ongoing investigation into the allocation of the 2018 — scheduled to be held in Russia — and 2022 — in Qatar — editions of the World Cup, FIFA’s flagship tournament.
Calls by CNN to the Qatar 2022 Supreme Committee for Delivery and Legacy, the organizing committee for the 2022 tournament, went unanswered, and at the time of writing the Football Union of Russia had not responded to CNN requests for a statement.
Both Russia and Qatar, however, have publicly denied any wrongdoing with regards to the bidding processes of the two tournaments.
FIFA declined to comment further to CNN but it says it has been cooperating with the investigation — including allowing a search of its premises.
The investigation was originally focused on 53 cases, Michael Lauber, the Swiss attorney general, said in June.
Lauber also said, in announcing the initial cases, that he was unconcerned if the investigation produced “collateral damage” in terms of the two countries’ right to host their respective tournaments.
Should instances of corruption be proven, the bidding process for the next two World Cups could be reopened, senior FIFA official Domenico Scala has previously said.
The Swiss investigation is proceeding alongside a probe launched by the U.S. Justice Department. The scale of the two operations was brought to light when several high-profile officials were arrested in May as part of an early-morning raid at a luxury hotel in Zurich ahead of FIFA’s world congress.
FIFA president Sepp Blatter, who was reelected to a new five-year term just days after his executive ranks were decimated by the arrests, later announced he would be stepping down once a successor could be found, though he has not been arrested or indicted.
“Culture of corruption”
Richard Weber, head of the IRS criminal investigation division, told reporters following the arrests that the defendants “fostered a culture of corruption and greed.”
“This really is the World Cup of fraud, and today we are issuing FIFA a red card,” he said.
FIFA officials are accused of taking bribes totaling more than $150 million and in return providing “lucrative media and marketing rights” to soccer tournaments as kickbacks over the past 24 years.
The news of the widened investigation comes only days after former FIFA executive-turned-whistleblower Chuck Blazer was banned from all football-related activities for life by FIFA’s ethics committee.
He had previously pleaded guilty to a string of charges brought by u.s. prosecutors including racketeering, wire fraud, money laundering and income tax evasion in 2013.
An X Live Africa News Aggregation Service (http://xliveafrica.com)