Swiss special prosecutor has opened criminal proceedings against FIFA president, Gianni Infantino, relating to dealings with the country’s attorney general, Michael Lauber.
It will be recalled that the Swiss attorney General offered to resign from his position last week after a court stated that he covered up undisclosed meetings with Gianni Infantino and lied to supervisors while his office probed alleged corruption relating to FIFA, THE WILL reports.
A special prosecutor, Stefan Keller, was appointed to review criminal complaints against Infantino, Lauber and other individuals. Proceedings have since started against Infantino and the chief public prosecutor of Upper Valais, Rinaldo Arnold.
Also, Keller has requested to open proceedings against Lauber.
A statement from the Swiss Federal Council disclosed that Keller had “reached the conclusion that, in connection with the meetings between Attorney General Lauber and FIFA president Gianni Infantino and the chief public prosecutor of the Upper Valais, there are indications of criminal conduct”.
“The presumption of innocence applies to attorney general Michael Lauber, FIFA president Gianni Infantino and chief public prosecutor Rinaldo Arnold. The special federal public prosecutor is independent in his activities.”
The allegations against Infantino and Arnold “concern abuse of public office, breach of official secrecy, assisting offenders and incitement to these acts”, the statement said.
Reacting to the development, Infantino said: “People remember well where FIFA was as an institution back in 2015, and how substantial judicial intervention was actually required to help restore the credibility of the organisation.
“As President of FIFA, it has been my aim from day one, and it remains my aim, to assist the authorities with investigating past wrongdoings at FIFA. FIFA officials have met with prosecutors in other jurisdictions across the world for exactly these purposes.
“People have been convicted and sentenced, thanks to FIFA’s cooperation, and especially in the United States of America, where our cooperation has resulted in over 40 criminal convictions. Therefore, I remain fully supportive of the judicial process, and FIFA remains willing to fully cooperate with the Swiss authorities for these purposes.”
A statement from FIFA itself read: “FIFA acknowledges the decision of the Swiss Special Federal Public Prosecutor in opening an investigation regarding the meetings involving the FIFA president and the Swiss attorney general.
“FIFA, including the FIFA President, remains at the disposal of the Swiss authorities and will, as we have always done, cooperate fully with this investigation.”
Infantino became FIFA president in 2016, after Sepp Blatter, his predecessor, was forced to resign over corruption allegations. Blatter was banned in December 2015 from all football-related activities for eight years, later reduced to six on appeal.