INFANTINO UNDER FRESH PRESSURE AS SWISS ATTORNEY GENERAL OFFERS TO RESIGN OVER SECRET FIFA MEETINGS

Switzerland’s Attorney General Michael Lauber has offered his resignation following a Court decision that criticised his conduct following his handling over a investigation into alleged corruption at FIFA.

A Federal Administrative Court in Bern announced today that Lauber had committed several breaches of his official duties and lied to investigators while his office examined football’s world governing body.

Lauber has again denied that he lied but today’s development has put FIFA President Gianni Infantino under fresh scrutiny. 

The Federal Administrative Court claimed that Lauber made “implausible” statements about an undisclosed meeting with Infantino in June 2017. 

It added that Lauber “intentionally made a false statement” to the watchdog investigating his conduct and knowingly concealed the meeting.

“Overall, the Court finds that Attorney General Lauber committed several breaches of official duty,” the Court said.

The ruling came in response to Lauber’s appeal against being disciplined in March for misconduct over the FIFA affair.

That decision had led to an oversight panel deducting eight per cent of Lauber’s annual salary of CHF278,000 (£236,000/$302,000/€259,000) for “breach of duty”.

Lauber offered his resignation following today’s decision in a personal statement released by the Office of the Attorney General. 

“I respect the judgment of the Federal Administrative Court,” he said. 

“I still reject the lie in all form. 

“However, if they [the Court] don’t believe me as a Federal prosecutor, it will harm the prosecutor’s office. 

“I therefore offer the responsible Judicial Commission the resignation in the interest of the institutions.”

It is alleged that Lauber held undocumented meetings in 2016 and 2017 with Infantino, elected as a member of the International Olympic Committee earlier this year. 

The meetings only came to light following the publication of the Football Leaks series of confidential documents in November 2018.

It remains unknown what was actually discussed at those meetings, though there has been much speculation that Infantino, elected as FIFA President in February 2016, was looking into whether there was a criminal investigation into himself and potentially interfere with other investigations into the Zurich-based governing body and its partners.

The meetings between Michael Lauber and Gianni Infantino only came to light following the publication of the Football Leaks investigation in November 2018 ©Football Leaks

Both Lauber and Infantino claim they cannot remember what they discussed. 

Lauber, the Attorney General since 2012, is already facing impeachment proceedings – the first time in Swiss history such action has been taken against someone serving in the role. 

A special prosecutor is reviewing criminal complaints against him and Infantino.

Infantino has denied any wrongdoing. 

If a criminal investigation is opened, however, Infantino is expected to face calls to step down as FIFA President, at least while they are investigated.

-insidethegames