By Tony Attwood
A UK exclusive for Untold!
Back in the old days ex-US Justice Minister Loretta Lynch and the Swiss Federal Prosecutor Michael Lauber worked together to tackle corruption.
As Attorney General of the USA, Loretta Lynch was keen on this idea of a united approach to fight the corruption that was obviously endemic in Fifa, and personally announced her own crusade against corruption in world football.
We know that Federal Prosecutor Lauber (the most senior law officer in Switzerland) is now himself being prosecuted for having had meetings with Infantino that were not registered and without others present – which is all highly irregular. And we know Infantino is fighting a rear-guard action as the Swiss legal system moves in on him for a variety of alleged offences.
But what of ex-US Justice Minister Loretta Lynch? The lady who was really gunning for Fifa, and using the full force of US judicial might – just as happened last time around when the Americans took over a Fifa conference and arrested a vast number of delegates.
As recently as September 2015 as US attorney general Loretta Lynch virtually declared war on Fifa having made it clear that the arrests of Fifa officials in May 2015 was just the start.
Five years on, Lauber is the subject of the criminal investigation. But where is Loretta Lynch?
Well it turns out that last year, Fifa changed its law firm in the USA, moving to “Paul Weiss”. And seemingly straight after that the Paul Weiss firm was joined by a distinguished lawyer, ex-US Justice Minister Loretta Lynch. Except that neither Paul Weiss nor Fifa chose to tell anyone about this!
Realisation of what happened only emerged when Fifa announced that Gianni Infantino (who as noted is defendant number 1 in the current Fifa scandal being played out in Switzerland) will, despite the legal case against him, open the Fifa summit conference this coming in October, to discuss … wait for it
Business ethics in football.
Now I maybe should pause here for you to stop laughing: Infantino opening the conference on business ethics in football. And the ex-US attorney general being part of it. Of course I must add that in the present round of trials and hearings in Switzerland no one has been found guilty yet. But even the fact that they are under suspicion, given their past record, might urge everyone else to take a back seat.
But Loretta Lynch, the former US attorney general who made that rousing announcement that she was going to take on Fifa didn’t say that she’s now working with the law firm that represents Fifa in the USA.
Just to be clear and because this is so weird I am going to give a quick resume…
Infantino, faced with a criminal prosecution that has already brought down the chief prosecutor in Switzerland is running a conference on business ethics in football, supported by the woman who launched a crusade against corruption in world football, by which she obviously meant, Fifa.
And remember Infantino is not just accused of doing naughty things with Fifa, he is accused of having secret meetings with Lauber, the result of which was that several other lines of investigation were compromised.
These cases include abuse of office, and that infamous trip using a private jet which was signed off by the head of Fifa governance Tomaz Vesel at the heart of which was a totally fabricated non-existent meeting that Infantino had to use the jet to get back for.
Already there is outrage in Switzerland and in most of the football world (although not in the UK where there seems to be a ban on reporting the cases) – outrage that the top legal official in Switzerland could be corrupted by Fifa, outrage that Infantino has not been suspended or at the very least voluntarily stepped down pending the outcome of the enquiries.
Of course Infantino himself denies any wrongdoing and he’s innocent until proven otherwise, but there is so much dirty linen flying around that the moment it is causing surprise, alarm and utter consternation that Infantino is carrying on, and seemingly is being supported by the lady who said she was going to bring Fifa down and clean it up (although not necessarily in that order it seems).
The plan appears to be one in which Infantino carries on as if the whole matter is a mere detail that will quickly be resolved in his favour. He recently, for example, visited the Prime Minister of Italy, Giuseppe Conte, in London. Then he was off to the United Nations office in Vienna to sign documents declaring Fifa’s co-operation in the fight against drugs in sport.
Maybe now the UK media will wake up and cover the story. But don’t hold your breath.
And for now it is just Untold that chooses to cover it in depth. And we’ll have more very shortly.
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