By Paul Nicholson
March 5 – Controversial Swiss attorney general, Michael Lauber (pictured), who led the Swiss investigations into FIFA but mysteriously failed to remember or document meetings he held with FIFA president Gianni Infantino, has been sanctioned for disloyalty, lying and breaching his office’s code of conduct.
Lauber, who was narrowly and surprisingly re-elected by the Swiss Parliament for a third four-year term last September, will remain in his post but 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.”
The investigation into Lauber was opened in May 2019 and focussed on undocumented meetings between Lauber and Infantino. In particular three meetings that they held but could not remember but which a third party who was present at those meetings did remember.
The AS-MPC said in its statement that Lauber worked to obstruct their investigation and used his position to withhold requested information. More seriously, Lauber’s actions are said to have compromised the investigation into FIFA.
The AS-MPC catalogues Lauber’s violations of duties of office as:
“• On several occasions, the Attorney General did not tell the truth to the AS-MPC, Parliament and to the public about his meeting on June 16, 2017 with FIFA President Gianni
Infant. It was proven that this meeting took place.
- The Attorney General has neglected to protocol his three proven meetings with FIFA President Gianni Infantino in violation of art. 76 f of the Code of Criminal Procedure.
- A third party was present at the March 22, 2016 and June 16 meetings 2017 between the Attorney General and the President of FIFA. Topics relevant to the procedures have been addressed on these occasions, creating a risk of breach of secrecy function.
- By improperly engaging in his or her role in the registration process in the FIFA complex of proceedings, the Attorney General has violated the art. 9 of the Law on the Organization of Criminal Authorities, according to which it is required to monitor effective allocation of human resources, financial resources and infrastructure of the Public Prosecutor’s Office.
- Like all civil servants, the Attorney General is under a duty of loyalty which also includes the obligation to act faithfully. Following the prosecutor general violated the disciplinary proceedings against him and this obligation by publicly disclosing the discredit on the AS-MPC, its direct authority of surveillance.
- The Attorney General obstructed the AS-MPC investigation by personally influencing and directly handling AS-MPC’s requests for information and document production within the Public Prosecutor’s Office, and ensuring that some of these requests were unlawfully rejected and delayed. Without informing the AS-MPC, he personally, prior to their hearing, granted unlawful permissions to testify to persons called to provide information to the AS-MPC, describing the topics on which they were allowed to answer questions. The Attorney General also provided assistance to these individuals as advocates at the expense of the Public Prosecutor of the Confederation, putting them in a conflict of loyalty situation.”
An impartial investigation?
The charges against Lauber are so severe they cast doubt over the one indictment that he did manage to bring against FIFA’s former general secretary Jerome Valcke, BeIN Sport and PSG CEO Nasser Al-Khelaifi and a Greek sports rights seller.
Al-Khelaifi had already been the target of the Swiss prosecutor in a case which was dismissed without charge last month, only then to find a second charge levelled against him that purportedly links him to Valcke. Al-Kahleifi has dismissed the allegations as spurious.
“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,” he said.
Sources close to beIN Sport say the Lauber sanction now opens up potential for further legal recourse for Al-Khelaifi against the Swiss prosecution service over the impartiality and propriety of its investigations.
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