Tuesday, June 2, 2020

Swiss prosecutor Michael Lauber under threat of dismissal

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The noose is tightening on the Swiss Attorney General Michael Lauber. At the forefront of investigations related to the International Football Federation (FIFA) since 2015, the magistrate is under threat of dismissal due to his three informal meetings in 2016 and 2017, without minutes to the court. 'support, with Gianni Infantino, the president of the body (civil party in the proceedings in question).

Wednesday, May 13, the judicial committee of the Swiss Federal Assembly is due to rule on the opening of this procedure of indictment. If it were launched – it would be a first in Switzerland -, Mr. Lauber would be heard, on May 20, by the commission.

After being seized in June 2019 of FIFA-related investigations by the Federal Criminal Court, the magistrate was narrowly re-elected in September for a third four-year term. In March, however, he was found guilty by the Supervisory Authority of the Swiss Prosecutor's Office (AS-MPC) of having violated several duties of office by 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.

Read also FIFA: Swiss prosecutor Michael Lauber convicted for violating his duties

Hearing in November 2018 by the AS-MPC, Mr. Lauber did not mention a third meeting with Mr. Infantino. This meeting took place on June 16, 2017, in Bern, in the presence of the head of communication of the public ministry of the Swiss Confederation (MPC), André Marty, and 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.

Daily revelations on April 27 The Tribune de Genève, that Mr. Infantino wanted "Get rid of an investigation that threatened him personally", angered Swiss parliamentarians.

"This prosecutor has become a disgrace to Switzerland"

"Mr. Lauber said that there is no third meeting with FIFA. When his agenda proved that it had taken place, three people, including Mr. Lauber, no longer knew what they were discussing. Please… ", quips Matthias Aebischer, national councilor (Socialist Party) and member of the judicial commission.

"This federal prosecutor has become a disgrace for Switzerlandadded Roger Nordmann, president of the Socialist Group of the Federal Assembly. These informal meetings with Mr. Infantino, whom he admitted only drop by drop when it was no longer possible to deny, completely discredit him. It seems increasingly clear that one or more of Mr. Lauber's subordinates were also involved: from personnel, the problem becomes institutional. "

Former president of the judicial commission, the national councilor (Christian Democratic Party) Jean-Paul Gschwind is categorical: "The relationship of trust is broken, the prosecutor must resign in order to avoid a dismissal procedure. "

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".

The case leaves skeptical German magistrate Hans-Joachim Eckert, former co-chair of the FIFA ethics committee (2013-2017). " There was no real investigation into Mr. Infantino, he believes. No prosecutor interviewed him alone, there was no research carried out on FIFA premises or at Mr. Infantino's place, in cell phones. But it looks like there was a protective shield over the president. "

Read also FIFA: Gianni Infantino suspected of having been laundered by the Swiss public prosecutor's office

Informal contacts between FIFA and the MPC regarding the Platini case

Another element attests to the proximity between FIFA and the MPC. According to our information, the administration of the federation and the Swiss public prosecutor's office had several direct and informal exchanges on the case of Michel Platini, in May 2018. These took place after The world revealed the existence of a letter sent by the prosecutor Cédric Remund to Vincent Solari, the lawyer of ex-number 10 of the Blues.

In this missive, Mr. Remund indicated that the criminal proceedings, opened in 2015 against the ex-president of FIFA Sepp Blatter, for a payment of 2 million Swiss francs (1.8 million euros) made, in 2011 , to the Frenchman, was not directed against the latter, heard as an assisted witness.

According to supporters of the former president of the Union of European Football Associations (UEFA), this letter confirmed his exclusion from the criminal case. "Mr. Remund called me and clearly indicated that the MPC did not intend to prosecute Mr. Platini, because the file did not allow charges to be brought against him, explains today Me Solari. In agreement with me, he sent me a written confirmation, and I had informed him that we would use it publicly. "

Read also FIFA: Swiss prosecution weakened by suspicions of collusion

FIFA then informed the MPC that it did not interpret the mail in the same way. "There was disagreement over the legal interpretation of the letter by Platini, who proclaimed that he was whitewashed and demanded the lifting of his suspension by the FIFA ethics committee", blows an expert on the court cases relating to the proceedings.

"As part of his status as a witness, if there are elements, the Platini case is not definitively finished", MPC spokesperson André Marty officially declared on May 26, 2018. Has this correction been requested from the MPC by FIFA? When contacted, the latter does not answer the question and indicates that "Several jurisdictions have established that this sum (from 2 million) was illegally given by Mr. Blatter to Mr. Platini. " As for the MPC, it recalls its " independence " and ensures that it "Is not currently conducting any criminal proceedings against Mr. Platini".

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