Sat | Apr 29, 2017

Swiss AG: 53 possible money-laundering cases in FIFA probe

Published:Thursday | June 18, 2015 | 6:00 AM
Swiss Attorney General Michael Lauber speaks during a press conference in Bern, Switzerland, yesterday.

BERN (AP):

Banks in Switzerland have reported 53 possible acts of money-laundering in the investigation of FIFA's 2018 and 2022 World Cup bidding contests, the country's attorney-general said yesterday.

Michael Lauber said the "suspicious bank relations" were filed to comply with Switzerland's regulations against money laundering.

The federal prosecutor described a "huge and complex" case which targets "criminal mismanagement and money-laundering" in the bidding contests which sent the 2018 World Cup to Russia and the 2022 tournament to Qatar.

Lauber is prepared for either country to be stripped of the hosting rights if new evidence proves wrongdoing.

"I don't mind if this has some collateral (damage) somewhere else," he said, addressing the media for the first time since the Swiss investigation into FIFA was announced three weeks ago.

Lauber said he "does not exclude" interviewing FIFA President Sepp Blatter and secretary-general Jerome Valcke in the future, though they are not currently under suspicion.

Blatter is also a target of a separate investigation of bribery and racketeering led by US federal agencies, who are working with Swiss authorities.

The American case alleged that senior FIFA voters received $10 million in bribes to support South Africa's successful bid for the 2010 World Cup. Valcke has been linked to transferring the money from a FIFA account on behalf of South African officials.

Lauber would not be drawn on whether the South African case was also within the scope of his investigation.

Criminal complaint

FIFA began the 2018 and 2022 case by filing a criminal complaint against "persons unknown" last November.

"This is a dynamic process," Lauber said. "It could really go everywhere and that is why I don't want to tell you which direction I put my focus."

Lauber, who led units specialising in organised crime in Switzerland and money laundering in Liechtenstein, said Wednesday that his task force is analysing nine terabytes of data.

Some of the 53 suspicious transactions are among 104 incidents previously notified to Swiss and American federal authorities, he said.

Lauber's team has also pursued a line of inquiry into payments linked to a friendly match between Argentina and Brazil played in Doha two weeks before the FIFA vote. Both countries had long-serving delegates on FIFA's executive committee.