Swiss prosecutor cleared in FIFA probe, to leave job

ZURICH (Reuters) – A top Swiss federal prosecutor has been cleared of wrongdoing after being suspended amid questions about his conduct during investigations into suspected corruption surrounding world soccer body FIFA, a special prosecutor in Zurich said on Friday.

FILE PHOTO: Soccer Football – Official Draw for the FIFA Club World Cup UAE 2018 – Zurich, Switzerland – September 4, 2018 General view of the FIFA logo before the start of the draw REUTERS/Arnd Wiegmann

Olivier Thormann will nevertheless leave his job as head of the Office of the Attorney General’s (OAG) white-collar crimes unit, the OAG said.

Ulrich Weder, a Zurich prosecutor who had been appointed to investigate, confirmed that his probe into Thormann’s behavior had been dropped.

Since taking up his investigation, Weder had looked into possible secrecy violations, favoritism, bribery and accepting benefits, but found Thormann had done nothing wrong.

“The initial suspicion was undermined by the investigation, rather than being substantiated,” Weder said, adding his probe against Thormann has been “completely closed”.

In a subsequent statement, the OAG said Attorney General Michael Lauber and Thormann had agreed Thormann would leave. It thanked him for his work in helping his unit fight international corruption, money laundering and other economic crime.

Thormann had been suspended after Lauber in late September received allegations against him involving the OAG’s criminal proceedings in the field of soccer and its governing body FIFA.

Initially, Lauber’s office raised concern that the allegations “may be of criminal relevance”, but Weder said that was not the case.

So far, more than 40 entities and individuals have been charged by U.S. prosecutors in connection with the FIFA investigation. The Swiss OAG has filed no charges in its investigations to date.

Thormann’s suspension was not linked to two meetings between leaders of the OAG and FIFA that became public following publication of the so-called “Football Leaks” earlier this month, the OAG has said.

Thormann’s economic crimes division has been investigating many high-profile cases, including scandals surrounding Malaysian state fund 1MDB and Brazilian energy group Petrobras.

Reporting by John Miller; Editing by John O’Brien and Toby Davis

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