Swiss attorney general probing Fifa case himself subject of investigation
A Swiss watchdog that oversees the country’s federal prosecutors is conducting a disciplinary investigation of attorney general Michael Lauber relating to his handling of a long-running probe of Fifa.
It emerged at the end of last week that the AS-MPC is looking into alleged undisclosed contact between Lauber and the Fifa president Gianni Infantino. Lauber steadfastly denies any wrongdoing, and insists he will not be stepping down.
The attorney general has been carrying out a probe of corruption in international soccer dating back to 2014, and which treats Fifa as a victim rather than a suspect.
The case widened following police raids on a hotel in Zurich in May 2015 that led to the arrests of various senior soccer executives, as part of the Fifa-gate corruption scandal, in which dozens of officials, largely from the Americas, were implicated.
The watchdog said last month that two meetings Lauber had with Infantino in 2016, shortly after the latter succeeded the banned and disgraced Sepp Blatter, and uncovered by the Football Leaks website, were “not problematic.”
However, a third meeting widely reported in the Swiss media is regarded as meriting a “preliminary inquiry.”
The AS-MPC said on Friday that it had decided to start a "disciplinary investigation concerning the attorney general of the confederation, Michael Lauber."
It added that the objective was to clarify “possible violations of [his] professional duties… in the context of the complex Fifa process.”
Lauber does not recall the third meeting, but, while acknowledging from personal records that it did take place, insisted he had not lied.
In a press conference, he stated: “A memory is there or it’s not there. I don’t have any motive to conceal the truth.”
Lauber said of the watchdog’s investigation: “It’s not only a full frontal assault on my person. In my opinion, it’s also an infringement on the independence of the Office of the Attorney General.”
The official is seeking a new term in office, from 2020 to 2023, with the Swiss parliament due to decide on his renomination next month.
Lauber said there was “no reason to withdraw my candidacy.”