KEIR RADNEDGE in ZURICH: Swiss authorities have seized alpine apartments and other property in their inquiries into FIFA corruption.
Work focused initially on the bid process for the 2018 and 2022 World Cups but widened in scope as agents turned up further evidence of possible wrongdoing, including money-laundering.
The latest expansion of the investigation into FIFA business was revealed by Attorney-General Michael Lauber, sharing a news conference with his United States counterpart Loretta Lynch.
Lauber launched his investigation simultaneously but separately to the so-called FIFAGate action by the US. He described domestic interest in the FIFA scandal as “enormous” since the Swiss/US arrests and documents seizures from the world football federation’s offices on May 27.
He said: “These investigations led to a specifically designed task force, house searches in the western part of Switzerland and further evidence being collected. Financial assets have been seized including real estate, including flats in the Swiss Alps; investments in the real estate can be misused for the purposes of money laundering.
“Also 121 different bank accounts have been brought to the attention of our task force by the Swiss financial intelligence unit.”
Lauber said examining all the documentary and electronic evidence – including 11 terabytes, estimated at 900m ‘pages’ – involved painstaking and time-consuming work.
Hence he refused to estimate the value of bank assets frozen and the time still needed, saying: “This investigation will take much more than the legendary 90 minutes. We are well aware of the public interest in this investigation but we are not even at the half-time break.”
He also noted, with a suggestion of surprise, that “almost no foreign jurisidiction has requested legal assistance so far. One can only speculate why this is.”
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