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Swiss open 2006 World Cup criminal case against Franz Beckenbauer

Franz Beckenbauer is facing a Swiss criminal investigation on suspicion of financial corruption together with three fellow key movers behind Germany's successful bid to host the 2006 World Cup.

The Attorney General of Switzerland named 70-year-old Beckenbauer, a World Cup winner with West Germany as a player in 1974 and as manager of the team 16 years later, as one of four suspects.

The Swiss prosecutor's office said searches "for the collection of evidence" were carried out simultaneously at eight separate locations on Thursday, and various suspects were questioned.

The other suspects named are former German Football Association (DFB) presidents Wolfgang Niersbach and Theo Zwanziger, and former general secretary Horst Rudolf Schmidt.

All four were senior figures at the DFB during Germany's World Cup bid campaign, of which Beckenbauer was the figurehead, and all were on the executive board of the 2006 World Cup organising committee, with Beckenbauer its president.

The prosecutor identified all four in its statement on Thursday, and said: "The proceedings relate in particular to allegations of fraud, criminal mismanagement, money laundering and misappropriation."

German news magazine Der Speigel reported that Swiss authorities are pursuing a case against Beckenbauer for suspected money laundering and breach of trust.

German organisers of the 2006 World Cup -- led by Beckenbauer, a World Cup-winning player and coach -- have been under investigation by Swiss prosecutors and the FIFA ethics committee for several months over alleged bribery and irregular payments of several million dollars linked to FIFA.

Beckenbauer headed his country's bid to win the hosting rights in 2000 in a tight vote ahead of a South Africa bid backed by Nelson Mandela. He then chaired the organising committee.

Beckenbauer has denied wrongdoing.

Earlier this year, the German FA (DFB) published the results of an inquiry that tried to explain a complex trail about payments of €6.7 million ($7.3m) and 10m Swiss francs ($10m).

The money linked Beckenbauer, then-FIFA president Sepp Blatter, FIFA power broker Mohamed bin Hammam and Robert Louis-Dreyfus, the late former Adidas executive and former part owner of Swiss marketing agency Infront.

That report, by law firm Freshfields, suggested a deeper involvement of Beckenbauer, who later joined the FIFA executive committee from 2007-11, than previously suspected.

Investigations by German prosecutors and tax officials into suspected tax evasion by the DFB led Niersbach and Helmut Sandrock to resign in recent months as its president and general secretary, respectively.

Niersbach was later banned for one year by the FIFA ethics committee for failing to disclose suspected corruption. He has said he will appeal against the ban.

Beckenbauer and three other senior 2006 World Cup officials are under investigation for suspected bribery by FIFA ethics prosecutors, who opened formal cases in March.

The other three German officials are: Zwanziger, who replaced Beckenbauer on the FIFA executive committee in 2011; Schmidt, vice president of the World Cup organising panel; and Stefan Hans, chief financial officer for the organisers.

Swiss federal prosecutors are investigating the 2006 World Cup allegations as part of a wider probe of FIFA's business. They have already put Blatter under criminal investigation for two separate acts of suspected financial mismanagement. 

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