World football federation FIFA has said it welcomes the actions by Swiss justice officials “to root out any wrongdoing in football.”
A positive-spin statement was issued after the world federation was assailed by the twin-track investigations of both the US Justice Department and the Swiss Office of the Attorney General.
FIFA welcomes actions that can help contribute to rooting out any wrongdoing in football. We understand that today’s actions by the Swiss Federal Office of Justice on behalf of the US authorities and the Swiss Office of the Attorney General (initiated by FIFA through the submission of the file on the 2018/2022 FIFA World Cup bidding process) relate to different matters.
Firstly, the arrest of six individuals this morning in Zurich concerns investigations by theUS Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of the State of New York. The Swiss authorities, acting on behalf of their US counterparts, arrested the individuals for activities carried out in relation with CONCACAF and CONMEBOL business.
The second instance follows FIFA’s initiative of presenting the file on the 2018/2022 FIFA World Cup™ bidding process to the Swiss Office of the Attorney General in November 2014. The authorities are taking the opportunity of the FIFA Congress to interview those FIFA Executive Committee members who are not Swiss residents who voted back in 2010 and are still in office.
Today, the Swiss Office of the Attorney General announced that it has opened criminal proceedings against persons unknown in relation to the 2018/2022 FIFA World Cup™ bidding process. FIFA is fully cooperating with the investigation and is supporting the collection of evidence in this regard. As noted by the Swiss authorities, this collection of evidence is being carried out on a cooperative basis.
We are pleased to see that the investigation is being energetically pursued for the good of football and believe that it will help to reinforce measures that FIFA has already taken.
Earlier, a statement from the Office of the Attorney General said that 10 of the FIFA exco who voted back in December 2010 would be questioned “as persons providing information, said:
The Office of the Attorney General of Switzerland (OAG) has opened criminal proceedings against persons unknown on suspicion of criminal mismanagement and of money laundering in connection with the allocation of the 2018 and 2022 Football World Cups. In the course of said proceedings, electronic data and documents were seized today at FIFA’s head office in Zurich.
Today, on Wednesday 27 May 2015, the OAG has seized data and documents stored in IT systems at the Fédération Internationale de Football Association (FIFA) as part of a so-called “collection of evidence on cooperative basis”.
That means that the party in possession of the data – in this case, FIFA – delivers the requested data to law enforcement authorities, or gives assistance in securing the data, thus facilitating an efficient and swift procedure.
The collection of relevant bank documents had already been ordered beforehand at various financial institutes in Switzerland. The files seized today and the collected bank documents will serve criminal proceedings both in Switzerland and abroad.
In the Swiss criminal proceedings, opened by the OAG on 10 March 2015, it is suspected that irregularities occurred in the allocation of the FIFA World Cups of 2018 and 2022. The corresponding unjust enrichment is suspected to have taken place at least partly in Switzerland.
Furthermore, the head office of the damaged party, FIFA, is in Switzerland. For these reasons, investigations are being carried out on the suspicion of criminal mismanagement (Article 158 under 1, Section 3 Swiss Criminal Code / SCC).
There are also suspicions of money laundering through Swiss bank accounts (Article 305bis, SCC). Subsequently to today’s seizure of files, the OAG and the Swiss Federal Criminal Police will be questioning 10 persons who took part in voting on the allocation of the 2018 and 2022 World Cups as members of the Executive Committee in 2010. These persons should be questioned as persons providing information.
For reasons of criminal procedure (principle of proportionality), the procedure coordinated with the requested acts of the U.S. authorities was designed in such a way as to allow the procurement of any criminally relevant data in an effective manner, and to avoid any possible collusion.
These measures were carried out simultaneously as a large number of persons involved in allocating the World Cups were currently in Zurich. These legal actions concern two criminal procedures conducted separately by the OAG and the US Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of New York.
The Swiss and US law enforcement authorities are not conducting any joint investigations, but are coordinating their respective criminal proceedings.
On 18 November 2014, FIFA had filed criminal charges against persons unknown with the OAG. Therefore, the Swiss proceeding is aimed at persons unknown, with FIFA as the injured party. With this procedure, the OAG is contributing to the struggle against corrupt behaviour and money laundering.
In further claification the OAG noted:
In connection with irregularities surrounding football tournaments, two separate proceedings must be distinguished:
The Office of the Attorney General of Switzerland (OAG) is conducting a Swiss criminal investigation regarding the allocation of the 2018 and 2022 World Cups.
In separate proceedings, and independently of the Swiss criminal investigation of the OAG, the US Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of New York is conducting a criminal investigation into the allocation of media, marketing and sponsoring rights for football tournaments carried out in the United States and Latin America.
The Federal Office of Justice (FOJ) supports this criminal investigation as part of international legal assistance. Today, on Wednesday 27 May 2015, football officials and suspected bribers have been arrested in Zurich and placed in detention pending extradition as part of this investigation, and by order of the FOJ.
The requests for extradition and legal assistance shall be decided upon by the FOJ, and not by the Office of the Attorney General of Switzerland.