By Paul Nicholson
March 30 – The case brought against BeIN Sport boss Nasser AI-Khelaifi by the Swiss prosecutor’s office and driven by its attorney general Michael Lauber was dropped by the Federal Court in Switzerland at the end of last week.
While the prosecutor has 10 days to appeal against the decision to drop the case, the likelihood of it proceeding looks very slim.
For Al-Khelaifi it will be the end of what has become a frustrating investigation into his conduct, having seen a case in February similarly dropped. The decision to dismiss that case saw all charges of bribery in connection with the acquisition of 2026 and 2030 World Cup broadcast rights dropped.
However, just days later the Swiss AG brought another case against him alleging that the provision of a villa to FIFA general secretary Jerome Valcke “encouraged mismanagement”, claims the Swiss Court could find substantiated in any of the evidence before them.
Explaining its decision the Swiss Federal Court stated: “These conditions of mismanagement are absent from the OAG’s [Swiss Prosecutors] accusation. Indeed, the accusation does not set out the specific management obligations resulting from his position as FIFA general secretary which Jérôme Valcke allegedly breached in return for the economic advantages he allegedly received from Nasser AI-Khelaifi in connection with the “Villa Bianca”. The indictment also fails to explain what financial damage Jerome Valcke has allegedly caused FIFA in this way. On the contrary, there is every reason to believe, on reading the description in the indictment, that the repayment to Jerome Valcke of the deposit which he had paid for the purchase of the said villa after Nasser AI-Khelaifi became the owner, and the transfer by the latter in favour of the aforementioned of a free use of this property, are the result of an agreement concluded between them in a private capacity, without any connection with Jérôme Valcke’s professional activity and the function of general secretary that he exercised within FIFA.”
AI-Khelaifi is not making any statement regarding the decision while there is still a chance the Swiss prosecutors may appeal.
When the second charges were brought against him he did comment, on February 20, saying: “While I have cooperated with all authorities during the legal process, the three year investigation has been characterised by constant leaks, misinformation and a seemingly relentless agenda to smear my reputation in the media – completely irrespective of the facts and the notion of due process. For that reason, I have requested the relevant Swiss authorities to open a criminal enquiry into the conduct of the investigation.”
The controversial Swiss attorney general, Lauber, who led the Swiss investigations into FIFA but mysteriously failed to remember or document meetings he held with FIFA president Gianni Infantino, has already been sanctioned for disloyalty, lying and breaching his office’s code of conduct.
Narrowly and surprisingly re-elected by the Swiss Parliament for a third four-year term last September, he was sanctioned earlier this month and while he will remain in his post he will have his salary cut by 8% for 12 months.
In a statement, the Confederation Public Prosecutor’s Office (AS-MPC) said Lauber “contravened several duties of function. 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. In addition, the Attorney General does not see how his actions are problematic and shows a poor understanding of it profession. The sum of the breaches of its obligations is substantial.”
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