Fifa president Gianni Infantino is now under criminal investigation in Switzerland, after Swiss special prosecutor Dr Stefan Keller found ‘indications of criminal conduct’ in secret meetings between Infantino and Switzerland Attorney General Michael Lauber.
Keller, who was appointed on 29 June by the Supervisory Authority for the Office of the Attorney General (OAG), found enough evidence to indict Infantino, Lauber and Chief Public Prosecutor Rinaldo Arnold on abuse of public office, breach of official secrecy and assisting offenders—which are articles 312, 320 and 305 of the Swiss Criminal Code respectively.
Switzerland’s special federal public prosecutor reserves the right to include ‘additional criminal acts and the commencement of further proceedings’.
Keller has applied to the Immunity Committee of the National Council and the Legal Affairs Committee of the Council of States for the removal of immunity from prosecution from Lauber, which is a pre-condition to the opening of criminal proceedings against the attorney general.
Neither Infantino nor Arnold enjoy immunity. The OAG said Lauber tendered his resignation on Tuesday with his last day of active duty set for 31 August.
Lauber and Infantino allegedly met in secret three times in 2016 and and 2017. Both men denied any wrongdoing and Fifa, in April, described the accusations as ‘deliberately misleading and malicious’.
However, the Swiss court said that Lauber covered up the meeting and lied to supervisors during an investigation by his office into corruption surrounding Fifa.
Infantino, a lawyer by training, was elected Fifa president in 2016 after his Swiss predecessor, Sepp Blatter, resigned amidst allegations of corruption—tied to payments made to then Uefa President Michel Platini.
Infantino was charged with cleaning up Fifa, while Lauber was tasked with investigating it. Keller noted that ‘the presumption of innocence’ applies to Infantino, Lauber and Arnold.
Fifa issued a statement today which acknowledged the opening of an investigation into its president. Despite the charges, Infantino insisted that his secret meetings with Lauber were ‘perfectly legitimate’ and ‘part of the fiduciary duties of the president of Fifa’.
The Fifa president claimed that his allegedly corrupt meetings were actually aimed to ‘help restore the credibility of the organisation’.
“There was a mountain of questions, so it’s legitimate to offer to contribute to the Swiss attorney general about the clarification of these events,” said Infantino. “[…] As president of Fifa, it has been my aim from day one, and it remains my aim, to assist the authorities with investigating past wrongdoings at Fifa.
“[…] I remain fully supportive of the judicial process, and Fifa remains willing to fully cooperate with the Swiss authorities for these purposes.”