FIFA Suffers Fresh Blow As President Faces Criminal Charges

The Swiss Special Federal public prosecutor has opened criminal proceedings against FIFA president Gianni Infantino, potentially threatening the tenure of the man who was brought in to restore its dented image .

The proceedings follow an investigation by the prosecutor, Stefan Keller, into complaints regarding meetings between Infantino, Swiss attorney general Michael Lauber who oofered to resign last week, and the chief public prosecutor of the Upper Valais, Rinaldo Arnold.

Keller, a regional court judge, uncovered “elements that make up reprehensible behaviour,” an oversight panel monitoring federal prosecutors said in a statement. He opened a case against Infantino and regional prosecutor Rinaldo Arnold, a childhood friend of the FIFA boss, and sought authorization to open a case against Lauber.

Keller, who was named to the post of special prosecutor on June 29, found possible infractions included abuse of public office, breach of official secrecy, “assisting offenders” and “incitement to these acts,” the panel said, adding other criminal acts and proceedings could also be considered.

A statement from the Swiss federal council said Keller has concluded that there are “indications of criminal conduct” in connection with those meetings.

The statement added: “This concerns abuse of public office (Article 312 of the Swiss Criminal Code), breach of official secrecy (Article 320 of the Swiss Criminal Code), assisting offenders (Article 305 of the Swiss Criminal Code) and incitement to these acts. Additional criminal acts and the commencement of further proceedings remain reserved.”

It was confirmed in the same statement that Keller is seeking approval from the relevant Swiss parliamentary committees to open criminal proceedings against Lauber.

The statement concluded: “The presumption of innocence applies to attorney general Michael Lauber, FIFA president Gianni Infantino and chief public prosecutor Rinaldo Arnold.”

Lauber and Infantino met twice in 2016, the year Infantino was elected FIFA president.

Under the Swiss criminal code, conviction for abuse of public office can bring penalties of up to five years in prison or other detention, while breach of official secrecy and assisting offenders can incur up to three years each. Each charge can also bring financial penalties.

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