KEIR RADNEDGE REPORTING —- Swiss Attorney-General Michael Lauber has suspended senior federal prosecutor Olivier Thormann over allegations relating to the investigation into world football federation FIFA.
According to local media reports, first internal concerns were raised in September about Thormann who is head of the economic crime department. An extraordinary prosecutor is likely to be appointed to inquire further.
Thormann’s responsibilities included not only the FIFA file but the Malaysian sovereign wealth fund 1MDB and corruption-racked Brazilian energy group Petrobras.
A statement from the Lauber’s office said that the office had taken the precautionary steps as a standard measures to preserve its own and that of its investigations.
No charges have been laid against FIFA since the Swiss authorities became involved after the arrests and extraditions of senior directors on behalf of the United States juidicial system in May 2015.
The OAG said the allegations about Thormann had nothing to do with two meetings between leaders of the OAG and FIFA which became public after publication from Football Leaks last week.
Information revealed by the investigatory documentation referred to links between Gianni Infantino and a Rinaldo Arnold, chief prosecutor in the FIFA president’s home region of Upper Valais.
Leaked documents published in German news magazine Der Spiegel and 13 other European media outlets alleged that Arnold had been a guest of Infantino at the 2018 World Cup in Russia and possibly earlier at the 2016 FIFA Congress in Mexico and Champions League Final in Milan.
A statement from the Public Prosecutor’s Office said it had “decided to entrust a special prosecutor with the task of establishing precisely the facts and determining whether or not they would be subject to criminal law.”
Arnold has not been suspended from his duties.
The Football Leaks investigators claims to possess email exchanges in which Arnold thanks Infantino for tickets to the benefit of family members.
He had also allegedly offered to inquire on behalf of Infantino, while he was still general secretary of European federation UEFA, about whether the latter might become subject to investigation from the Federal Prosecutor’s Office over information emanating from the Panama Papers.
The Office of the Swiss Attorney General is leading an investigation into possible fraud and money-laundering from former FIFA directors, partly in connection with the 2018/2022 World Cup awards and as a consequence of evidence gathered by the United States in its FIFAGate investigation.