EXCLUSIVE: FIFA president Gianni Infantino has criminal investigation into his use of a private jet between Suriname and Geneva in 2017 DROPPED by Swiss prosecutors
- A criminal investigation into FIFA president Gianni Infantino has been shelved
- The use of a private jet from Suriname to Geneva in 2017 was being scrutinised
- Infantino has waived his right to compensation having seen the case abandoned
FIFA president Gianni Infantino has been cleared by Swiss prosecutors of any wrongdoing over his use of a private jet in 2017.
Infantino chartered a flight from Suriname to Switzerland and prosecutor Stefan Keller called for a criminal investigation as a result, which has now been dropped.
FIFA’s ethics committee abandoned its own investigation into the use of the jet back in August 2020 due to ‘the evident lack of a prima facie case regarding any alleged breach of the FIFA code of ethics’ – and now a crimical case in Switzerland has also been shelved.
‘FIFA welcomes the decision of the Office of the Attorney General of Switzerland (OAG), which has closed the investigation against FIFA President Gianni Infantino related to a private jet being chartered to fly from Suriname to Switzerland in 2017,’ a statement from FIFA reads.
‘It has been confirmed that the travel arrangements, made by the President’s Office and FIFA’s travel department, were fully in line with FIFA’s compliance rules and regulations – a decision that is in line with the ruling of FIFA Ethics Committee in August 2020 on this case. In addition, the OAG has acknowledged that the manner of communication in relation to these travel arrangements at the time were completely justified.’
Swiss prosecutors have shelved a criminal investigation into FIFA president Gianni Infantino’s use of a private jet in 2017 to fly between Suriname and Switzerland
Despite being eligible for sizeable compensation Infantino has waived his rights to receive damages and is simply leaving all legal costs for the case to the Swiss state.
The statement concludes: ‘Since the start of proceedings, the FIFA President has been fully at the disposal of the Swiss authorities and remains hopeful that the judicial system continues to recognise that the current FIFA administration has turned the page on the past and is now established as a credible and respected organisation.’
A case against the FIFA president originally emerged as prosecutors examined Infantino’s meetings with Switzerland’s former attorney general Michael Lauber.
Both men flatly denied any wrongdoing in those meetings and Infantino would later explain that he routinely met with prosecutors from around the world to discuss any to ongoing criminal cases in which FIFA was assigned victim status in regard to alleged corrupt activity prior to his presidential election in 2016.
Infantino, who replaced Sepp Blatter as FIFA president in 2016, then saw a 2017 flight from Suriname to Geneva scrutinised by Keller, which angered Infantino and the governing body.
Addressing use of the private jet, FIFA said in a punchy retort in 2020: ‘Now, many months into his investigation and having established precisely nothing problematic about these meetings with the former Federal Attorney General, as FIFA always predicted would be the case, and having not even asked to hear the FIFA President since his investigation was announced last July, the ‘special prosecutor’ has today issued an official ‘media release’ saying that the FIFA President should now be investigated for something else!’
Their rebuttal added: ‘Neither FIFA nor its President have ever been informed of these new spurious allegations and they are therefore unable to comment on them, which is probably the intention of the ‘special prosecutor’.
Infantino continually denied wrongdoing and FIFA’s ethics committee cleared him in 2020
‘The method of ‘special prosecutor’ Stefan Keller to accuse and defame by publishing media releases without justification borders on character assassination and is rejected in the strongest possible terms by FIFA and its President. FIFA and its President will obviously take all necessary legal steps and remedies to put an end to these baseless and ill-intentioned accusations.’
In March 2021 the Swiss Federal Criminal Court sided with FIFA following a complaint against Keller, accusing him of going beyond his original investigating remit of the meetings with Lauber.
Two months later in that same year Keller was removed from his position as extraordinary federal prosecutor in the investigation into Infantino after a court ruled he could not ‘guarantee a fair process.’
The Swiss Federal Court stated that ‘by attempting to look into matters that had nothing to do with his mandate and then publicly raising his own personal suspicions about them without any objective justification, Mr Keller had clearly violated the presumption of innocence and damaged the standing of the FIFA President.’
The criminal investigation is now over.