Swiss Open Criminal Proceedings Into FIFA Boss, Own Prosecutor

This content was published on July 30, 2020 - 13:58

(Bloomberg) -- Swiss prosecutors asked the federal government to strip the immunity of Attorney General Michael Lauber so they can open a criminal investigation against him over a series of undocumented meetings he held with FIFA boss Gianni Infantino.

Stefan Keller, the special federal public prosecutor leading the probe, concluded that there were “indications of criminal conduct” related to meetings between Lauber, Infantino and a regional Swiss prosecutor during a corruption investigation into soccer’s governing body.

The possible violations include abuse of public office, breach of official secrecy, and the assisting and inciting of offenders, the Swiss Federal Council said Thursday in a statement.

Keller has already opened cases against Infantino and Rinaldo Arnold, the chief public prosecutor of the Upper Valais, as they don’t have immunity, according to the statement.

The Office of the Attorney General said on Thursday that it takes note of the decision but declined to comment further. Last week, judges found that he had been negligent, made false statements and “knowingly concealed” a meeting with Infantino. Lauber said that he accepts the federal court’s sanction against him but that he continued to “reject the accusation of lying.”

FIFA said last week in a statement that the meetings were legitimate and legal. No one immediately responded to messages left on Thursday with FIFA, nor the Upper Valais prosecutor’s office.

Five years ago he was leading a sweeping probe into FIFA corruption along with his U.S. counterpart, days after the Zurich arrests of top soccer executives. But his mishandling of the probe proved to be his undoing and his cover up of a June 2017 meeting with Infantino represented a “serious breach of Lauber’s official duty and duty of loyalty,” the court ruled.

Lauber’s immunity must be lifted before criminal proceedings can be opened against him, the Swiss Federal Council said. “Additional criminal acts and the commencement of further proceedings remain reserved,” according to the statement.

©2020 Bloomberg L.P.

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