Sun, Nov 11, 2018 - Page 11 News List

Swiss prosecutor suspended while leading FIFA probe

AP, GENEVA, Switzerland

Switzerland’s chief economic crimes prosecutor Olivier Thormann was suspended last week while leading an investigation into corruption linked to FIFA, the Swiss Office of the Attorney General said on Friday.

It was unclear how Thormann’s suspension is to affect the integrity of ongoing criminal proceedings.

Soccer officials under criminal suspicion include former FIFA president Sepp Blatter, German soccer great Franz Beckenbauer and Nasser al-Khelaifi, chairman of Paris Saint-Germain and Qatar-owned BeIN Media Group.

“This decision is based on a risk assessment which focuses, in particular, on protecting [the office] as an institution and protecting the criminal proceedings it leads,” the office said in a statement.

Thormann was the subject of complaints filed in late September and was suspended by his employers “in order to clarify the situation.”

He did not immediately respond to an e-mailed request for comment.

The agency gave no details why Thormann was suspended, but said it related to the four-year investigation of FIFA and international soccer officials.

Beckenbauer and other organizers of the 2006 World Cup are linked to a suspicious payment of 6.7 million euros (US$7.6 million).

Thormann’s suspension comes days after Swiss daily Tages-Anzeiger reported a possible conflict of interest between another Swiss prosecutor and FIFA president Gianni Infantino, a childhood friend.

The prosecutor in Infantino’s home region, Rinaldo Arnold, offered to mediate between Bern and FIFA, and attended a 2016 meeting Infantino had with Swiss Attorney General Michael Lauber.

Lauber’s office said the suspension was not linked to reports about Infantino and Arnold arising from the “Football Leaks” documents.

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