Swiss attorney general Michael Lauber offers to resign in FIFA corruption case fallout

Lauber offered his resignation to the parliamentary judicial commission ahead of the publication of a federal court ruling in his appeal against being disciplined in March for misconduct.

The Associated Press July 24, 2020 17:55:18 IST
Swiss attorney general Michael Lauber offers to resign in FIFA corruption case fallout

Geneva: Swiss attorney general Michael Lauber offered to resign Friday in the latest fallout from meetings he had with FIFA president Gianni Infantino during a sprawling investigation into football corruption.

Lauber offered his resignation to the parliamentary judicial commission ahead of the publication of a federal court ruling in his appeal against being disciplined in March for misconduct.

Lauber said he continued to dispute the allegation that he lied.

“However, the fact that I am not believed as the attorney general is detrimental to the federal prosecution office,” he said in a statement.

The internal disciplinary case against Lauber included a meeting he had with Infantino in June 2017 at a hotel in Bern at which the prosecutor took no notes.

Lauber and Infantino both later said they could not recall what was discussed.

“On the basis of general life experience, such a case of collective amnesia is an aberration,” the Swiss federal administrative court ruling said.

FIFA did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Lauber acknowledged two undeclared meetings he had in 2016 with the recently elected Infantino when they were reported in the Football Leaks series of confidential documents in November 2018.

In 2018, Lauber called a news conference and said the first two meetings with Infantino were justifiable exchanges with FIFA’s new leader about long-running investigations affecting the football body.

However, the third meeting in 2017 remained secret for several more months until it was reported by Swiss media. An investigation was opened by an oversight panel supervising the federal prosecution office.

In March, a federal oversight panel deducted eight per cent of Lauber's near-300,000 Swiss franc ($300,000) yearly salary. The appeal ruling Friday cut the deduction to five per cent, saving Lauber about 9,000 Swiss francs ($9,000).

The ruling partially upheld Lauber's complaint that he was denied access to some documents during the disciplinary process, while confirming other findings of the prosecutor's misconduct.

The scrutiny of Lauber's role in the five-year soccer corruption investigation led to him being recused last year by Switzerland’s federal criminal court.

In the wider case, at least 25 criminal proceedings have been opened, with targets including former FIFA president Sepp Blatter, and former UEFA president Michel Platini. They have not been charged and deny wrongdoing.

Charges have been brought against former FIFA secretary general Jerome Valcke and Qatari soccer and television executive Nasser al-Khelaifi, who is the president of Paris Saint-Germain and a member of the UEFA executive committee. They deny wrongdoing and a trial is scheduled to open in September.

After a separate series of criminal complaints filed by people who were not identified, a special prosecutor was appointed this month to look at the Lauber-Infantino meetings.

Infantino has described those complaints as “quite absurd.”

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