By Musa Sunusi Ahmad
A Swiss special prosecutor has commenced criminal proceedings against Fifa President Gianni Infantino due to alleged criminal conduct.
Special prosecutor Stefan Keller, who was appointed as “extraordinary prosecutor” to review complaints against Infantino and the Swiss Attorney General Michael Laubner, found indications of criminal conduct related to undisclosed meetings, the authority overseeing Switzerland’s federal prosecutors said on Thursday.
Keller has also commenced proceedings against Rinaldo Arnold, the chief public prosecutor of Upper Valais, and has requested permission to open a legal case against Lauber.
The Swiss Federal Council said on Thursday that Keller “reached the conclusion that, in connection with the meetings between Attorney General Michael Lauber and the Fifa president Gianni Infantino and the Chief Public Prosecutor of the Upper Valais, there are indications of criminal conduct”.
The allegations made against Infantino and Arnold “concerns abuse of public office, breach of official secrecy, assisting offenders and incitement to these acts”, the statement added.
Swiss attorney general offers resignation over FIFA corruption probe
Keller was appointed last week to look into dealings between Infantino and the Swiss Attorney General Lauber – who last week offered his resignation – over an undisclosed meeting in June 2017. It’s alleged that they held three closed-door meetings regarding the status of the corruption inquiry, in which no notes were taken.
A court concluded last week that Lauber had covered up the meeting and lied to his supervisors while his office investigated corruption allegations surrounding the football governing body.
Lauber has denied any wrongdoing, but in March he was sanctioned for disloyalty, lying and breaching his office’s code of conduct. Lauber has also had his salary cut for a year after a watchdog group found he repeatedly told falsehoods and broke a prosecutors’ code of conduct.
Last month, Lauber became the subject of an impeachment process relating to his handling of the Fifa inquiry.
Infantino replaced the disgraced Sepp Blatter as Fifa president in 2016 and
Both Infantino and Lauber have previously denied wrongdoing. The Independent has contacted Fifa for comment from Infantino.
Lauber’s office was aware of the appointment of Keller as special prosecutor, but has declined to comment.
Arnold, who is from the same area of Switzerland as Infantino and is a personal friend of the Fifa president, has been accused by Swiss social democrat politician Gilbert Truffer of facilitating at least one of the meetings between Infantino and Lauber, with Arnold reported to have first spoken with the Attorney General in July 2015 while Infantino was still General Secretary of Uefa – eight months before he replaced the disgraced Sepp Blatter as Fifa president.
Blatter was forced to resign as head of world football the year before over corruption allegations, and in December 2015 he was banned from all football-related activities for eight years, later reduced to six on appeal.
Speaking in 2016 after he was appointed as Blatter’s successor at a Fifa Congress meeting, Infantino said: “I cannot express my feelings in this moment. We will restore the image and the respect of Fifa and everyone in the world will applaud us.
“We are finally going to ensure that we can once again focus on the beautiful game of football.”
Under the Fifa Ethics Committee’s own statutes, any official facing criminal proceedings must be temporarily suspended pending outcome of the investigation.