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Swiss Attorney General Lied to Investigators, Hid Meeting with FIFA Chief: Court

FIFA logo (Photo Credit: Reuters)

FIFA logo (Photo Credit: Reuters)

Switzerland's top prosecutor resigned following a drawn-out controversy over his handling of a corruption investigation targeting FIFA, citing a court ruling that partially upheld accusations against him.

Switzerland's top law enforcement official committed several breaches of his official duties and lied to investigators while his office examined alleged corruption surrounding football governing body FIFA, a federal court said on Friday.

Attorney General Michael Lauber made "implausible" statements about an undisclosed meeting with FIFA President Gianni Infantino in June 2017, the Federal Administrative Court (FAC) said.

The court concluded Lauber "intentionally made a false statement" to the watchdog investigating his conduct and knowingly concealed the meeting.

"Overall, the court finds that Attorney General Lauber committed several breaches of official duty," the court said.

Lauber in a statement offered to resign to protect the integrity of his office but denied he had lied.

"I respect the decision of the Federal Administrative Court," Michael Lauber said in a statement, adding that while he firmly rejected accusations he had lied in the case, "in the interest of the institution, I offer my resignation."

Attorney general since 2012, Lauber already faced impeachment proceedings, while a special prosecutor is reviewing criminal complaints against him and Infantino, who has denied any wrongdoing.

Anti-corruption campaigners accuse Lauber of bungling a fraud trial over payments linked to Germany's 2006 World Cup. In March he saw his pay cut 8% after the watchdog found he told falsehoods and violated codes of conduct.

He appealed against the punishment, but the FAC only partially upheld his complaint.

The court said Lauber and other participants said they could not remember the 2017 meeting with Infantino.

"This fact alone and various other circumstances lead to the conclusion that Lauber's statements are implausible," the court said. "Such a gap in memory among several participants is to be regarded as absurd according to general experience of life."

But the court said the Supervisory Authority for the Office of the Attorney General watchdog went too far when saying Lauber had a "fundamentally flawed understanding of his profession".

It cut his punishment to a 5% reduction in his near 300,000 Swiss franc ($324,250) salary.

(With inputs from Agencies)