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Switzerland attorney general offers resignation over handling of FIFA corruption probe

Michael Lauber has been under a cloud of scandal since 2018

Matt Mathers
Friday 24 July 2020 17:14 BST
Attorney general disputes accusation that he lied about his office's investigation into corruption in football
Attorney general disputes accusation that he lied about his office's investigation into corruption in football (AFP via Getty Images)

Michael Lauber, Switzerland‘s attorney general, has offered his resignation after a court concluded that he lied to investigators probing alleged corruption in football’s world governing body, FIFA.

Mr Lauber, who was given a third term by the Swiss parliament in September last year, is accused of making “implausible” statements about an undisclosed meeting with FIFA President Gianni Infantino in June 2017.

Switzerland’s Federal Administrative Court said Lauber had committed several breaches of his official duties and lied to investigators while his office examined alleged corruption in soccer.

Lauber said he continues to dispute the allegation that he lied.

“In the interests of the institutions I offer my resignation,” Lauber said in a statement.

“However, the fact that I am not believed as the attorney general is detrimental to the federal prosecution office.”

First appointed attorney general in 2012, Lauber has already faced impeachment proceedings. A special prosecutor is reviewing criminal complaints against him and Infantino, who has denied any wrongdoing.

A member of Switzerland’s parliamentary judicial committee welcomed Lauber’s decision to step down.

“It was the best thing he could do at the moment, there were too many allegations against him,” Ursula Schneider Schuettel told Reuters.

“In his position the attorney general has to be above suspicion and it would have been damaging if he remained.”

The internal disciplinary case against Lauber included a meeting he had with Infantino in June 2017 at a hotel in Bern at which the prosecutor took no notes.

Lauber and Infantino both later said they could not recall what was discussed.

Lauber had previously acknowledged two undeclared meetings he had in 2016 with the recently elected Infantino when they were reported in the Football Leaks series of confidential documents in November 2018.

He was appointed attorney for a third consecutive term in 2019, despite disciplinary proceedings over his handling of the corruption investigation.

With 129 votes, Lauber eked out the majority he needed to stay in his role after some politicians spoke out in favour of keeping his office running smoothly and not prejudging his actions before the disciplinary probe.

“It is important to me as a member of parliament that institutions continue to function properly,” Christian Luescher of the pro-business Liberals, said at the time.

Additional reporting by agencies

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