Swiss court orders attorney general to recuse over FIFA probe
A Swiss court has ordered Swiss Attorney General Michael Lauber and two prosecutors to recuse themselves from an investigation relating to football’s world governing body, FIFA.
The Federal Criminal Court said on Tuesday that Lauber and two deputies violated procedural rules when they failed to report and document three meetings with FIFA boss Gianni Infantino.
The court upheld appeals made by two defendants against Lauber and two prosecutors, which said Lauber and the two prosecutors had held three meetings with the FIFA president in 2016 and 2017. The defendants said the disputed meetings had left Lauber, his former chief prosecutor and his taskforce open to possible bias. Tuesday’s decision cannot be appealed.
The Office of the Attorney General has been investigating several cases of corruption involving Zurich-based FIFA, dating back to 2015 and the presidency of Sepp Blatter. Swiss prosecutors have been pursuing 25 criminal investigations relating to FIFA, collaborating with 15 countries.
As a legal entity, FIFA has not been charged in any of the proceedings, but as a complainant it has been cooperating with the Office of the Attorney General to clarify aspects of investigations.
Reports that Lauber had held meetings with Infantino, not all disclosed, sparked speculation and controversy, and resulted in the watchdog overseeing Swiss federal prosecutors launching a probe into Lauber’s behaviour.
Last month Lauber, who is seeking re-election, defended himself, saying “conspiracy theories” over his meetings with Infantino and presumptions of dishonesty were interfering with prosecutorial integrity.
Lauber had admitted to two undocumented coordination meetings in 2016. He later acknowledged a third meeting in 2017 after media reports. But he rejected criticism and accusations of lying or hiding information.