Potential World Cup re-votes as Swiss investigators investigate FIFA money laundering
Swiss investigators are probing 53 possible money laundering cases, and 104 suspicious incidents in Swiss bank accounts, as they further look into the awarding of the 2018 Russia World Cup, and 2022 Qatar World Cup.
Domenico Scala, head of Fifa’s audit and compliance committee, has again reiterated the potential for a revote if clear evidence of bribery is revealed.
Swiss attorney general Michael Lauber, gave updates into the investigation that is running alongside an FBI inquiry that has already witnessed 14 executives charged as Fifa further sinks in this crisis.
It has been claimed that investigators are working their way though nine terabytes of data from Fifa’s Zurich headquarters and Swiss banks.
Lauber said “I am well aware of the enormous public interest in our investigation. Equally enormous is the public interest in an independent criminal procedure,”
“Our investigation is of great complexity and quite substantial. To give you an example: The SAG [Swiss attorney general’s office] has seized around nine terabytes of data. So far, our investigative team has obtained evidence concerning 104 banking relations; be aware that every banking relation represents several bank accounts.”
Lauber warned there would be interviews of “all relevant people”, not ruling out Fifa president Sepp Blatter, who promised to resign after the US scandal
At a press conference in Bern, Lauber said that Swiss banks taken appropriate action to report suspicious banking activity.
The Swiss investigation into the World Cup bidding process – which became chaotic and controversial – after England lost out for the 2018 tournament bid, was made public on the same day that US prosecutors alleged a “World Cup of fraud” stretching back two generations and arrested seven executives in Zurich.
The investigation had seized data and documents during two visits to Fifa’s headquarters and collected more from Swiss marketing agency Kentaro.
Fifa claimed that the Swiss investigation was as a result of it handing over documents relating to an investigation by its ethics committee chief, Michael Garcia, and further claimed that is was the “injured party”.
“For the time being Fifa is the injured party, that is true. They filed the report and this is the actual status as we conduct investigations against unknown persons,” said Lauber, but he warned that could change.
“We didn’t start the investigation against Fifa. We started the investigations based on that [report] and based on a mutual legal assistance request from the US.”
Asked whether the Swiss investigation, which is broader than Garcia’s, given that the Swiss prosecutors’ can probe bank accounts, would mark up with Fifa’s release of the entire Garcia report Lauber said he was only concerned with his own personal schedule.
“We are faced with a complex investigation with many international implications. The prosecution is ongoing and will take time,” Launer said. “It would not be professional to communicate at this moment a detailed timetable. The world of football needs to be patient. By its nature, this investigation will take more than the legendary 90 minutes.”
Taking longer than 90 minutes it is, and lets hope that justice is served where appropriate.