In 2016, when he was elected president of the International Football Federation (FIFA), Gianni Infantino promised to restore the ” reputation “ of the instance, then undermined by a long series of corruption scandals. Four years after his enthronement, the president of the organization is the subject of criminal proceedings, like his predecessor Sepp Blatter (1998-2015).
Thursday, July 30, the Swiss extraordinary federal prosecutor, Stefan Keller, decided to open criminal proceedings against the Swiss-Italian boss of world football, targeted by several criminal complaints because of his secret meetings, in 2016 and 2017, with Swiss Attorney General Michael Lauber.
Responsible for criminal investigations in connection with FIFA from 2015 to 2019, resigned on July 24, Mr. Lauber is also the subject of a criminal investigation since Mr. Keller requested “The competent parliamentary committees to authorize the opening of criminal proceedings against him”. In March, Mr. Lauber was found guilty of violating several official duties by the Swiss Public Prosecutor’s Supervisory Authority (AS-MPC).
“Elements of reprehensible behavior”
Intermediary during several meetings between Mr. Infantino and Mr. Lauber, a friend of the president of FIFA, the first prosecutor of Haut-Valais, Rinaldo Arnold, is also targeted by criminal proceedings. “The offenses concerned are abuse of authority, violation of official secrecy, obstruction of criminal proceedings and instigation of these offenses. Other infringements and openings of proceedings remain reserved ”, announces in a press release the AS-MPC.
After examining the four complaints against Messrs. Lauber, Infantino and Arnold, Stefan Keller, appointed July 3 as extraordinary prosecutor by the AS-MPC, « concludes that there are elements constituting reprehensible behavior in connection with the meeting between the public prosecutor Michael Lauber, the president of FIFA and the first public prosecutor of Haut-Valais ”.
For its part, FIFA has always explained that these informal meetings (without supporting minutes) were “Legitimate and legal”. “When Gianni Infantino was elected for the first time four years ago, FIFA was involved as a civil party in more than 20 proceedings in Switzerland”, recalls FIFA.
Will the FIFA Ethics Committee temporarily suspend Mr. Infantino? In 2015, after the opening of criminal proceedings against Mr. Blatter, the Federation’s internal court did not hesitate to strike out the then president, as well as Michel Platini, then heard as a witness assisted in the case of the alleged unfair payment of two million Swiss francs paid to the French in 2011.
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