July 3, 2020 / 11:45 AM / a month ago

Special prosecutor to examine allegations against FIFA boss, Swiss Attorney General

ZURICH, July 3 (Reuters) - Switzerland named a special prosecutor to review criminal complaints against FIFA chief Gianni Infantino and Attorney General Michael Lauber after the men held undocumented meetings while Lauber’s office was investigating suspected graft surrounding the global soccer body.

Lauber last month became the first national official since modern Switzerland’s founding in 1848 to undergo an impeachment process relating to his handling of the soccer inquiry.

The watchdog overseeing Swiss federal prosecutors - Lauber’s office - placed him under investigation last year after he held three closed-door meetings with FIFA President Infantino regarding the status of the corruption inquiry.

On Friday, the watchdog announced that lawmakers conducting the impeachment process had asked it to review Infantino’s conduct too in the investigation after three criminal complaints were filed against both men and other unnamed persons with prosecutors in the capital Bern.

As a result, Stefan Keller, a presiding judge at one of Switzerland’s cantonal courts, had been appointed as “extraordinary prosecutor” on June 29 to review the complaints and determine whether criminal charges should be brought against Lauber.

A fourth criminal complaint had since been filed, the watchdog said in a statement. No details of the complaints have been released.

FIFA did not immediately respond to a request for comment from Infantino and from the soccer federation itself. Lauber’s office said it had taken note of the special prosecutor’s appointment, declining further comment.

Lauber and Infantino previously both denied any wrongdoing.

A Swiss court last year ordered Lauber to recuse himself from world soccer investigations, ruling that his meetings with Infantino raised the appearance of bias. Other federal prosecutors are now running the investigations.

The investigations against Swiss-based FIFA involve allegations of breach of trust, fraud, embezzlement and money laundering. Lauber’s office is conducting around 25 criminal investigations alongside 15 foreign law enforcement agencies. (Reporting by Brenna Hughes Neghaiwi and Mike Shields Editing by Mark Heinrich)

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