Swiss probe finds 53 possible money-laundering cases at FIFA
Switzerland Attorney General Michael Lauber said during a press conference on Wednesday that banks in his country have noted 53 possible money-laundering incidents and more than 100 incidents of “suspicious activity” as the investigation continues into the bidding process of the 2018 and 2022 World Cups.
Lauber said the "suspicious bank relations” were filed as part of Switzerland's regulations against money laundering and adds that his office seized nine terabytes of information from FIFA headquarters in Zurich last week.
FIFA had asked the Swiss prosecutors in November to investigate possible criminal activity involved in the 2018 and 2022 World Cup bidding processes.
Swiss federal prosecutors opened criminal proceedings on May 27 relating to the awarding of those tournaments, after raiding a Zurich hotel and arresting seven FIFA officials for a separate United States investigation of bribery and racketeering.
The United States Justice Department indicted and charged 14 defendants that same day with racketeering, wire fraud and money laundering conspiracies, accusing the men of decades of "rampant, systemic, and deep-rooted" corruption by former and current FIFA officials.
The top prosecutor in Switzerland said he is also prepared to have Russia and Qatar stripped of their hosting duties if the investigation finds any wrongdoing. FIFA auditing and compliance committee chief Domenico Scala has said there could be re-vote of hosting rights depending on the investigation findings.
"I don't mind if this has some collateral [damage] somewhere else," Lauber said. "I don't care about the timetable of FIFA. I care very much about my own timetable, which I can't disclose."
No individuals have been targeted for interviews to help with the investigation, but Lauber did not rule out talking to FIFA President Sepp Blatter and general secretary Jerome Valcke.
Blatter is reportedly under investigation for bribery and racketeering by several U.S. federal agencies, and Valcke has been linked to transferring $10 million from a FIFA account on behalf of South African officials in order to secure the successful 2010 World Cup bid by that country.
- Scooby Axson