Stefan Keller was named special prosecutor in June to investigate possible crimes committed by Infantino, Lauber and two others. In a statement released Thursday, the Swiss attorney general’s office said Keller uncovered “indications of criminal conduct,” specifically “abuse of public office,” “breach of official secrecy,” “assisting offenders” and “incitement to these acts.”
FIFA pledged to cooperate with Swiss investigators in a statement released Thursday.
“People remember well where FIFA was as an institution back in 2015, and how substantial judicial intervention was actually required to help restore the credibility of the organization,” Infantino said in the statement. “As president of FIFA, it has been my aim from day one, and it remains my aim, to assist the authorities with investigating past wrongdoings at FIFA.” He was more blunt in his assessment of the investigation during a news conference last month, calling the investigation “quite absurd” and saying “to meet with the head prosecutor or attorney general of Switzerland is perfectly legitimate and it’s perfectly legal.”
Elected as president of world soccer’s governing body in 2016 after promising that its years of scandal were in the past, Infantino replaced longtime FIFA president Sepp Blatter after the latter was banned from international soccer for eight years over his role in a wide-ranging corruption scandal (the ban later was reduced to six years by a FIFA appeals committee, though Blatter and numerous other officials connected with FIFA remain under investigation by Swiss authorities).
Infantino, 50, who was born in Switzerland to Italian immigrants, was reelected for another three-year term in 2019.
Lauber, 54, who has been Switzerland’s attorney general since 2012, tendered his resignation Friday, only minutes before a Swiss court upheld findings that he had lied about the 2017 meeting with Infantino, which was held as Lauber’s office was investigating corruption at Zurich-based FIFA. Lauber’s last day in office is Aug. 31.
As revealed in the Football Leaks documents, Lauber and Infantino also met twice in 2016, soon after the latter was elected as FIFA president. Lauber described the meetings as normal amid his office’s investigation into FIFA. The third meeting took place at a hotel in Bern, Switzerland. Lauber told investigators he did not take notes, and both he and Infantino told investigators they did not recall what was discussed.
“On the basis of general life experience, such a case of collective amnesia is an aberration,” the Swiss federal court said in announcing its findings against Lauber last week.
Keller also announced that he is investigating Swiss regional prosecutor Rinaldo Arnold, a childhood friend of Infantino’s who helped arrange the meetings between the FIFA president and Lauber.