September 26 – The Swiss parliament has narrowly voted to extend the mandate of the country’s attorney general Michael Lauber despite a series of undocumented private meetings he held with FIFA president Gianni Infantino during his office’s handling of numerous cases of alleged FIFA-related corruption since 2015.
Lauber was thrown into the spotlight last year when details emerged of confidential meetings he and another high-level prosecutor held with Infantino and other officials related to Switzerland’s probe of the FifaGate scandal.
Lauber was handed a fourth year with the support of 129 federal lawmakers among 243 valid votes even though a parliamentary judicial panel had only this month recommended refusing him another term.
Back in June a Federal Criminal Court noted that the lack of documentation of Lauber’s meetings with Infantino violated federal law, raising questions over Infantino’s involvement in the FIFA corruption investigation and how far he was looking to influence the direction of that investigation and Swiss justice.
Questions were raised over whether the Swiss judiciary’s investigations of FIFA and former officials could be continued with Lauber’s investigations potentially compromised.
Last year Football Leaks revealed that two secret meetings had taken place between Infantino and Lauber. Both men reject any notion of wrongdoing, with Lauber insisting the meetings were intended to help advance the investigation.
But then Swiss media reported a third, previously undeclared meeting in June 2017 between the two.
Contacts between Lauber and Infantino were reportedly facilitated by Valais prosecutor Rinaldo Arnold, a long-time friend and associate of Infantino.
“I am grateful to parliament for the confidence it has placed in me,” Lauber said after Wednesday’s vote. “Strengthened by this election I will continue to commit myself to an effective, independent and modern prosecution.”
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