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#PanamaPapers: Swiss cops raid Uefa offices following Infantino links

In 2006 while working for Uefa, Infantino allegedly signed off on a television rights deal with 2 businessmen.

FILE: Fifa President Gianni Infantino in Zurich. Picture: AFP.

LONDON - European football's governing body Uefa has been plunged into crisis.

Swiss police have raided their offices following the naming of ex-Secretary General Gianni Infantino in papers leaked from Panamanian law firm Mossack Fonseca.

Infantino is now president of Fifa and was brought in to clear up corruption within football's world governing body.

In 2006, while working for Uefa, Infantino signed off on a television rights deal with two businessmen.

Those men have since been accused by the FBI of bribery.

The TV rights for Champions League football were sold for £78,780 (R1.5 million), but immediately sold on for almost three times that figure, £220,800.

The contract came to light after the leaking of 11 million documents from Mossack Fonseca.

A statement from Swiss authorities said the search was conducted to secure evidence.

Infantino has denied wrongdoing while Uefa says it's helping police.

INFANTINO DISMAYED

Infantino said he was "dismayed that his integrity was being doubted" by media reports which said the contract he signed several years ago as a Uefa official sold broadcast rights at a low price to a company which sold them on at a far higher price.

Reuters, which has not seen the documents, was unable to confirm this and Uefa denied that the rights were sold at below the market price.

"Uefa can confirm that today we received a visit from the office of the Swiss Federal Police acting under a warrant and requesting sight of the contracts between Uefa and Cross Trading/Teleamazonas," Uefa said in a statement.

Infantino said in a Fifa statement the contract had been "properly conducted" by Uefa.

British Prime Minister David Cameron also faced another day of questions about his finances, because his late father was among the tens of thousands of people named in the documents from law firm Mossack Fonseca, which has denied any wrongdoing.

After having at first described it as a private matter, Cameron's office said on Tuesday that he and his family did not benefit from any such funds at present. Cameron also said he did not own any shares or have any offshore funds.

But his failure to say whether he or his family would benefit in future only intensified media speculation, with the story splashed across many newspaper front pages on Wednesday.

"There are no offshore funds or trusts which the Prime Minister, Mrs Cameron or their children will benefit from in future," a spokesman for Cameron said on Wednesday.

INVESTIGATIONS

Among those named in the documents are friends of Russian President Vladimir Putin, relatives of the leaders of China, Britain and Pakistan, and Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko.

Poroshenko said he set up an offshore trust to separate his business and political interests after he became president and the arrangements were carried out with full transparency. He said he was not trying to minimize tax payments.

"There does not need to be an investigation," Poroshenko told reporters in Tokyo, when asked about the planned investigation by Ukraine's fiscal services.

Iceland suffered further political fallout from the documents, with the government hoping to avoid early elections by trying to pick a prime minister to replace Sigmundur David Gunnlaugsson.

He stepped down after the documents showed his wife owned an offshore company that held millions of dollars worth of debt from failed Icelandic banks. Gunnlaugsson has said his wife's assets were taxed in Iceland but the opposition has accused him of a conflict of interest because his government was negotiating deals with claimants on the banks. It was not clear whether Gunnlaugsson's wife had received any payment from the banks.

Icelanders, already angry with the financial and political elite after the 2008 banking crisis wrecked the economy, were expected return to the streets on Wednesday. Protesters pelted parliament with yoghurt and eggs earlier this week.

Other leading figures and financial institutions responded to the leak with denials of any wrongdoing as prosecutors and regulators began a review of the investigation by the US-based International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ) and other media organizations.

Britain, France, Australia, New Zealand, Austria, Sweden and the Netherlands are among nations that have started inquiries.

In the Netherlands, the chairman of law firm Ploum Lodder Princen (PLP) that reportedly helped wealthy individuals set up shell companies in Mexico and Ecuador to channel cash flows offshore, stepped down.

PLP said it had sought an independent inquiry by the Dutch Financial Supervision Office but could not "identify itself in any manner with the accusations which have been brought forward in this publicity."

French Finance Minister Michel Sapin said he had questioned the head of Societe Generale bank about its record creating shell companies and opening client accounts in Panama.

Additional information by Reuters