Switzerland's federal prosecutor Michael Lauber was ordered to recuse himself from an investigation looking into corruption at FIFA, soccer's world governing body.
Lauber and two deputies violated key procedural rules when they failed to report and document three meetings with FIFA head Gianni Infantino, the Swiss Federal Criminal Court said Tuesday. He is now fighting for his political survival
Documents leaked by the website Football Leaks late last year revealed Lauber to have held two private meetings with Fifa chief Gianni Infantino in the spring of 2016, brokered by an old school friend of Mr Infantino. A third meeting was later revealed by Swiss media to have taken place in Bern in 2017.
"He's now in a very serious position, that is clear," said Min Li Marti, a member of the Swiss parliament's legal affairs committee. "It could damage the confidence people have in the office of the federal prosecutor. I don't see a way how he can get past this. He has a big problem with his credibility and authority," he told the FT
According to Swiss law, prosecutors must take scrupulous notes of any meetings or discussions they hold with the subjects of their investigations. Mr Lauber did not record any detail of his off-diary meetings with Infantino. "It remains unclear why . . . these meetings were necessary for the orderly conduct of proceedings" the Federal Court, based in Bellinzona in southern Switzerland, said in its judgment. Regular discussions to co-ordinate technical and organisational aspects of the case, it noted, had already taken place through official channels.
Lauber admitted the first two meetings with Infantino took place, but initially denied having any memory of the third. He later conceded it had occurred, but said he had no recollection of what was discussed. The three other participants at the meeting, including Infantino, have continued to deny any recollection of it.
According to a spokesperson for the federal prosecutor, the federal court's decision will not stop work into the FIFA case.
It could damage the confidence people have in the office of the federal prosecutor. I don’t see a way how he can get past this. He has a big problem with his credibility and authority"