After hearing him in camera for two hours on Wednesday 20 May, the members of the judicial committee of the Swiss Federal Assembly decided (by thirteen votes to four) to initiate a dismissal procedure against the prosecutor General Michael Lauber. This is a first in Switzerland.
" There is a well-founded suspicion that Mr. Lauber seriously violated his duties of office either intentionally or through gross negligence, explains national councilor Matthias Aebischer (Socialist Party), member of the judicial commission. It is not a pre-conviction. It only means that we start the investigation. "
The magistrate had been at the forefront in around twenty investigations related to the International Football Federation (FIFA) and carried out by the Public Prosecutor's Office of the Swiss Confederation (MPC) since March 2015.
But three informal meetings (without supporting minutes) he had, in 2016 and 2017, with Gianni Infantino, the president of the proceeding (civil party in the proceedings in question) fueled suspicions of collusion .
The June 2017 meeting with M. Infantino
Mr. Lauber, narrowly re-elected in September 2019 for a third four-year term, had been removed, three months earlier, from FIFA-related investigations by the Federal Criminal Court. On March 2, he was convicted, by the Supervisory Authority of the Swiss Prosecutor's Office (AS-MPC), of having violated several duties of office by thus secretly meeting with Mr. Infantino.
At the end of this disciplinary investigation, the public prosecutor was punished by a reduction in wages. He appealed to the Federal Administrative Court. Which will make its decision in several months.
Hearing in November 2018 by the AS-MPC, Mr. Lauber had not mentioned his third meeting with Mr. Infantino. The Attorney General claims that he did not keep any memories of this meeting, which took place on June 16, 2017, in Bern, in the presence of the head of communications of the public prosecutor of the Swiss Confederation (MPC), André Marty, and from a childhood friend of Mr. Infantino, the first prosecutor of Haut-Valais Rinaldo Arnold. The latter had already served as an intermediary for Mr. Infantino for a previous meeting with Mr. Lauber, in March 2016.
"Other investigations" will be launched
According to the judicial commission, " the attorney general was heard on facts made public after 2 March 2020, in particular the revelation of other alleged contacts between FIFA and the MPC, the publication of an exchange of mails concerning the intentions of Gianni Infantino at spring 2016 and the prescription of the first trial (on the controversial 2006 World Cup allocation to Germany) of the FIFA-related business complex. "
Daily revelations on April 27 The Tribune de Genève, that Mr. Infantino wanted "Get rid of an investigation that threatened him personally", had angered Swiss parliamentarians.
" For the facts which are not the subject of the proceedings pending before the Federal Administrative Court, the commission decided to launch other investigations ", Indicated the judicial commission, which will await the decision of the Federal Administrative Court to open these investigations.
For its part, FIFA has always indicated "That there was nothing suspicious" during the meetings between Mr. Lauber and Mr. Infantino, recalling his desire to "Cooperate"
On Wednesday May 13th, the judicial commission heard the president of the AS-MPC, Hanspeter Uster, and the federal judge Alexia Heine, who produced the disciplinary investigation report on Mr. Lauber.
The procedure could lead to a vote by the Federal Assembly
According to our information, the AS-MPC rapporteurs were surprised that there was no trace in the MPC archives of the content of two meetings between FIFA executives and employees of the Swiss public prosecutor's office, end 2014.
According to the investigation report, Lauber at the time urged FIFA to file a criminal complaint. Since then, the organization has enjoyed injured party status in the context of investigations carried out in Switzerland.
The AS-MPC also estimated in its disciplinary report that Rinaldo Arnold, Mr. Infantino's friend, had sought in July 2015, on behalf of the latter, to glean judicial information, from the prosecutor Lauber, on ex-FIFA president Sepp Blatter and Michel Platini, then head of the Union of European Football Associations (UEFA).
" If, at the end of the procedure, the committee finds that the Attorney General has indeed seriously violated his duties of office either intentionally or by gross negligence, it will submit a proposal for dismissal to the Federal Assembly, which will have to decide (by a vote) ", explains the judicial committee.
" It’s appalling to have gotten to this point, considers Roger Nordmann, president of the socialist group of the Federal Assembly. The greatest service Mr. Lauber could do for the institution is to leave. Now. "