February 4 – FIFA President Gianni Infantino is under investigation in Switzerland for suspicion of bribery and potential corruption of the Swiss judiciary.
The Swiss canton of Valais appointed Damian K. Graf to look into the issues of Infantino’s relationships and gifts of VIP tickets and invitations to local government officials and specifically Attorney General Rinaldo Arnold.
According to documents seen by Suddeutsche Zeitung that investigation is intensifying. While Graf has refused to reveal any information until the investigation is complete, SZ says that implies the investigation is on-going.
In particular the investigation is looking at confidential meetings Arnold organised for Infantino with Michael Lauber, the head of the Swiss Federal Prosecutor’s Office which was looking into the FIFA scandals. A first secret meeting took place just three weeks after Infantino’s election to the FIFA presidency in February 2016.
Graf is not only looking into the dealings with FIFA but is also concerned about issues surrounding the independence of the Swiss judiciary and their dealings with sports officials, according to SZ.
Shortly after the meeting between Infantino and Lauber, Lauber’s federal prosecutor searched Infantino’s former UEFA offices in Nyon following his mention in the Panama Papers for signing off on a third-party Champions League TV rights deal for an entity called Cross Trading, owned by Argentine commercial rights dealers Hugo and Mariano Jinkis, both of whom were indicted in the US corruption investigation into FIFA officals.
While the incident was passed off by Infantino’s side as just being his signature on a document, one of many he would sign in a work day, he met again with Lauber and tried to get a press realease sent out denying that he was investigation. This request was refused.
For Infantino, this issue is one that is not going away as it goes right to the heart of the independence of the Swiss judiciary as well as to the integrity of FIFA’s presidency.
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