CRIMINAL INVESTIGATION: I HAVE NOTHING TO HIDE, SAYS FIFA BOSS, INFANTINO

Gianni Infantino has insisted that he had “nothing to hide” in a letter to member federations of football’s governing body Fifa, despite Swiss prosecutors launching a criminal probe against him.

In the letter, sent on Thursday and seen by Agence France-Presse, the FIFA president told the body’s 211 members that there were no “factual grounds for the opening of a criminal investigation” announced last week.

The special prosecutor has been investigating suspected collusion between Infantino and Swiss Attorney-General Michael Lauber, who resigned last month over his handling of a corruption investigation targeting FIFA.

Infantino and Lauber are said to have held secret meetings in 2016 and 2017, but the FIFAchief said the meetings were about restoring “public trust in our institution” after a series of scandals.

He claims those meetings “were in no way secret and most certainly not illegal”.

“I went to these meetings with the most senior law officer in the country in order to offer our full support and assistance in connection with the ongoing investigations, because Fifa has an interest and is a damaged party in these investigations,” Infantino wrote.

Gianni Infantino has insisted that he had “nothing to hide” in a letter to member federations of football’s governing body Fifa, despite Swiss prosecutors launching a criminal probe against him.

In the letter, sent on Thursday and seen by Agence France-Presse, the FIFA president told the body’s 211 members that there were no “factual grounds for the opening of a criminal investigation” announced last week.

The special prosecutor has been investigating suspected collusion between Infantino and Swiss Attorney-General Michael Lauber, who resigned last month over his handling of a corruption investigation targeting FIFA.

Infantino and Lauber are said to have held secret meetings in 2016 and 2017, but the FIFAchief said the meetings were about restoring “public trust in our institution” after a series of scandals.

He claims those meetings “were in no way secret and most certainly not illegal”.

“I went to these meetings with the most senior law officer in the country in order to offer our full support and assistance in connection with the ongoing investigations, because Fifa has an interest and is a damaged party in these investigations,” Infantino wrote.

Last Sunday, FIFA insisted Infantino would continue to fulfil his duties as president and blasted the Swiss probe, while its former head Sepp Blatter called for his successor to be suspended.

Speaking to AFP, Infantino’s lawyer David Zollinger said that since the announcement of the investigation, his client has not received “any information” from the prosecutor and “has not been summoned” to any hearings.

A former prosecutor, Zollinger was a member of the supervisory authority of the Swiss public prosecutor’s office – which oversaw Lauber – between 2011 and 2016.

I went to these meetings… to offer our full support and assistance in connection with the ongoing investigations, because FIFA has an interest and is a damaged party in these investigations.” – Infantino

He denies any conflict of interest, saying that his last meetings at the supervisory authority “took place in June and July of 2016 and at that time no one was aware of the meetings between Lauber and Infantino”.

Last Sunday, FIFA insisted Infantino would continue to fulfil his duties as president and blasted the Swiss probe, while its former head Sepp Blatter called for his successor to be suspended.

Speaking to AFP, Infantino’s lawyer David Zollinger said that since the announcement of the investigation, his client has not received “any information” from the prosecutor and “has not been summoned” to any hearings.

A former prosecutor, Zollinger was a member of the supervisory authority of the Swiss public prosecutor’s office – which oversaw Lauber – between 2011 and 2016.

He denies any conflict of interest, saying that his last meetings at the supervisory authority “took place in June and July of 2016 and at that time no one was aware of the meetings between Lauber and Infantino”.

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE, REUTERS