January 13 – Gianni Infantino has suffered a potentially significant setback in his bid to clear his name over alleged criminal misconduct after the Swiss Federal Criminal Court barred FIFA from being involved in ongoing proceedings over those infamous unrecorded dealings between Infantino and former attorney general Michael Lauber.
Ever since special prosecutor Stefan Keller announced that criminal proceedings had been launched against Infantino over those questionable Lauber meetings, the FIFA president has consistently rubbished the case against himself as “absurd” even though Keller said he found “elements that make up reprehensible behaviour” linked to the meetings with Lauber in 2016 and 2017.
Unusually FIFA has immersed itself and its legal resources in the Infantino case whereas previously (pre-Infantino) it has distanced the organisation from allegations of personal corruption against individuals within its organisation – FIFA is not under investigation, Infantino is.
In the latest twist, FIFA has lost an appeal to win third-party access to case files compiled by Keller as part of the investigation.
FIFA had complained that opening a criminal case against its president had damaged its reputation and argued that Keller was unauthorised to start such proceedings.
But in a new ruling, the court’s appeal body said criminal proceedings were “lawfully opened” and that there was no question of “a violation of Keller’s competence” to investigate Infantino and local regional prosecutor Rinaldo Arnold, a lifelong friend of Infantino who is reported to have facilitated the encounters with Lauber.
In a counter-statement, FIFA said Keller had given “a misleading impression that something illegal or untoward may have happened when the FIFA President met with the former Attorney General of Switzerland. Any such suggestion or implication is entirely rejected.”
It said neither FIFA nor Infantino had been informed about alleged wrongdoing nor had the FIFA president been given any opportunity to respond.
“FIFA and the FIFA President will, of course, continue to cooperate with this investigation, assuming they are ever given the chance to do so,” it added.
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