The watchdog that acts to oversee Switzerland’s federal prosecutors has opened a probe into attorney general Michael Lauber over his handling of a four-year investigation into the governance of world football’s governing body, Fifa.
The Supervisory Authority of the Federal Public Prosecutor’s Office (AS-MPC) has opened the disciplinary investigation to clarify, from the point of view of disciplinary law, possible violations of the duties of office of the attorney general within the framework of the Fifa probe.
Lauber has led the process since Fifa, which is headquartered in Zurich, filed a criminal complaint in November 2014. The probe, which treats Fifa as a victim rather than a suspect, was subsequently widened to include all Fifa business following the high-profile raids at a Zurich hotel in May 2015.
The Associated Press news agency said Lauber will be required to answer for an undeclared third meeting he had with current Fifa president Gianni Infantino in 2017, which he admitted on Friday had been his responsibility to recall.
November’s Football Leaks series of reports revealed details of two meetings, which Lauber has acknowledged, in 2016, but pressure has built after media reports of a third meeting. Infantino is not publicly suspected of wrongdoing in the probe concerning the administration of former Fifa president Sepp Blatter.
However, Swiss criminal proceedings are open against Blatter; Franz Beckenbauer, for his role as head of Germany’s local organising committee for the 2006 World Cup; and Nasser Al-Khelaifi, chairman of beIN Media Group and French Ligue 1 club Paris Saint-Germain. All three men have denied wrongdoing and have not been charged.
Lauber is due to meet a federal justice panel on Wednesday as part of a mandate renewal process which is set to lead to a parliamentary vote on his possible re-election in June. He said on Friday that “conspiracy theories” over his meetings with Infantino and presumptions of dishonesty were interfering with prosecutorial integrity ahead of next month’s vote.
“It’s not only a full frontal assault on my person,” he said, according to the Reuters news agency. “In my opinion, it’s also an infringement on the independence of the Office of the Attorney General.”
He added: “Based on the current situation and the supervisory authority’s report, I have to assume that the authority under its current chairmanship does not assume a relationship of trust.”