Top Swiss prosecutor defends contacts with FIFA boss

FIFA President Gianni Infantino was alleged to have invited prosecutor Rinaldo Arnold to events around the world, including the Russia World Cup, in exchange for organising meetings with Swiss Attorney General Michael Lauber.

Published : Nov 21, 2018 21:57 IST , Bern, Switzerland

According to the Swiss attorney general, his meetings with Infantino were “normal and regular.”
According to the Swiss attorney general, his meetings with Infantino were “normal and regular.”

According to the Swiss attorney general, his meetings with Infantino were “normal and regular.”

Switzerland's Attorney General Michael Lauber on Wednesday dismissed concern over his contacts with FIFA's president, insisting the meetings were proper given Bern's complex investigation into corruption within world football.

The Football Leaks website alleges that FIFA boss Gianni Infantino offered favours to a senior Swiss prosecutor, Rinaldo Arnold, in a bid to foster a relationship with Lauber, possibly to obtain privileged information about the FIFA probe.

The attorney general told journalists that his meetings with Infantino were “normal and regular, especially in complex cases.”

Lauber added that his office was disclosing the meetings for the sake of “transparency.”

According to Football Leaks, the informal meetings occurred in the spring of 2016, a few months after Infantino took charge of FIFA and vowed to restore its credibility, which had been shaken by the corruption-plagued leadership of Sepp Blatter.

The body that oversees Lauber's office, known as the AS-MPC, told AFP on Wednesday that while Lauber was not under investigation, it was examining the propriety of the meetings between Infantino and the attorney general.

Switzerland has pursued a number of cases since a raid on a luxury hotel in Zurich in May 2015 led to the arrests of a number of FIFA executives and exposed the corrupt underbelly of world football.

In addition to Blatter, the high-profile targets of Swiss investigators include FIFA's former secretary general Jerome Valcke and Nasser Al-Khelaifi, the powerful Qatari national and media executive who is the president of French giants Paris Saint-Germain.

None of the Swiss cases have moved to trial, but Lauber rejected criticism that his office was working slowly, noting that several of the some 25 individual probes could be closed next year or referred to court.

In a separate case, Lauber's spokesman has become the target of a grievance filed by former UEFA chief and French football great Michel Platini.

Platini was implicated in the Blatter probe over a questionable payment the Frenchman received from FIFA, but he was never named in a criminal allegation.

Platini's Geneva-based lawyer, Vincent Solari, told AFP that prosecution spokesman Andre Marty had engaged in “actions” detrimental to Platini, without providing further details.

Solari said he had filed an “administrative complaint” against Marty with the oversight body AS-MPC.

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