By Andrew Warshaw
March 9 – Unofficial dealings between under-fire Swiss attorney general Michael Lauber and Gianni Infantino just as the latter was considering seeking the FIFA presidency have fuelled suspicion about collusion between the pair following revelations at the weekend in French newspaper Le Monde.
Last week, Lauber, who led the Swiss investigations into the FifaGate scandal, was sanctioned for disloyalty, lying and breaching his office’s code of conduct.
In a statement, the Confederation Public Prosecutor’s Office (AS-MPC) said Lauber “contravened several duties of function.”
It added that he “repeatedly did not tell the truth, acted unfairly, violated the Code of Conduct of the Public Prosecutor’s Office, and obstructed the AS-MPC investigation” into his conduct opened in May 2019.
In an article at the weekend, Le Monde claimed a lawyer friend of Infantino met with Lauber in July 2015 – eight months before Infantino landed the FIFA presidency – to find out if he was the target of any corruption probe as he prepared to launch his campaign to take over from Sepp Blatter.
The newspaper said that its information came from the AS-MPC report into Lauber’s dealings with Infantino over possible collusion.
According to the report, says Le Monde, a meeting between Lauber and Rinaldo Arnold, senior prosecutor for the Upper Valais canton and a personal friend of Infantino, took place on July 8, 2015.
While the two said they had discussed “general questions of criminal procedure”, the AS-MPC said that “the investigation into FIFA was discussed.”
“Mr Infantino had an interest in finding out whether the proceedings were directed at him,” the report was quoted as saying, adding that “Mr Infantino was considering running for the presidency of FIFA at the time.”
It said Infantino also wanted to find out if two potential presidential rivals were being investigated. Interestingly, their names are blanked out in the copy of the report Le Monde says it obtained.
Infantino was UEFA general secretary at the time and working under the presidency of Michel Platini, who himself had ambition for the FIFA presidency. His was later scuppered by the notorious “disloyal payment” scandal and Infantino stepped in as UEFA’s candidate..
Although Platini, whose four-year ban has just expired, has failed to clear his name in a series of appeals, he has long believed there was a conspiracy to stop him succeeding Blatter.
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