Switzerland’s Attorney General Michael Lauber has offered to resign, after a court largely upheld a ruling against him over his bungled corruption investigation against global football body FIFA.
The Federal Administrative Court confirmed on Friday that Lauber had intentionally made false statements about his secret meetings with FIFA President Gianni Infantino, and that he was guilty of breaching his duties.
“I continue to reject the allegation that I lied,” Lauber said in a statement. “However if they (the court) do not believe me as attorney general, then the Office of the Attorney General will be harmed.”
A member of Switzerland’s parliamentary judicial committee welcomed Lauber’s decision.
“It was the best thing he could do at the moment, there were too many allegations against him,” Ursula Schneider Schuettel told the Reuters news agency.
“In his position the attorney general has to be above suspicion and it would have been damaging if he remained.”
The internal disciplinary case against Lauber included a meeting he had with Infantino in June 2017 at a hotel in Bern at which the prosecutor took no notes.
Lauber and Infantino both later said they could not recall what was discussed.
“On the basis of general life experience, such a case of collective amnesia is an aberration,” the Swiss federal administrative court ruling said.
Lauber acknowledged two undeclared meetings he had in 2016 with the recently elected Infantino when they were reported in the Football Leaks series of confidential documents in November 2018.
In the same year, Lauber called a news conference and said the first two meetings with Infantino were justifiable exchanges with FIFA’s new leader about long-running investigations affecting the football body.
However, the third meeting in 2017 remained secret for several more months until it was reported by Swiss media. An investigation was opened by an oversight panel supervising the federal prosecution office.
In March, a federal oversight panel deducted 8 percent of Lauber’s near-300,000 Swiss franc ($324,666) yearly salary. The appeal ruling on Friday cut the deduction to 5 percent, saving Lauber about 9,000 Swiss francs ($9,739).
The ruling partially upheld Lauber’s complaint that he was denied access to some documents during the disciplinary process, while confirming other findings of the prosecutor’s misconduct.
The scrutiny of Lauber’s role in the five-year football corruption investigation led to him being recused last year by Switzerland’s federal criminal court.