Swiss Authorities Not Ruling Out Interrogating Sepp Blatter

Swiss attorney general said prosecutors investigating corruption at world’s football governing body have identified 53 suspicious bank transactions.

Michael Lauber, addressing newsmen in Bern, Switzerland on Wednesday, said Fifa President Sepp Blatter and General Secretary Jerome Valcke could be interviewed, stressing that the progress of the investigation may take a long time.

“We are faced with a complex investigation with many international implications,” Lauber said.

“It would not be professional to communicate at this moment a detailed timetable. The world of soccer needs to be patient. By its nature, this investigation will take more than the legendary 90 minutes (the length of a regular soccer match).

“There will be formal interviews of all relevant people. By definition, this does not exclude interviewing the president of FIFA and this does not exclude interviewing the secretary general of FIFA.”

Swiss Attorney General Michael Lauber Briefs the Media Following a News Conference in Bern. Image: Ruben Speich/ Reuters.
Swiss Attorney General Michael Lauber Briefs the Media Following a News Conference in Bern. Image: Ruben Speich/ Reuters.

In light of the scandal which has rocked the football governing body, Switzerland’s third largest listed bank, Julius Baer, said it has launched its separate internal investigation in connection with FIFA. It did not tell when the internal probe had begun but revealed it was cooperating with authorities.

Lauber said his team had obtained evidence on 104 relationships between banks and clients, each carried out on several accounts. Switzerland’s Financial Intelligence Unit anti-money laundering agency had identified the 53 suspicious transactions flagged up from information supplied by banks.

The Swiss authorities had, on 27 May, confiscated electronic data and documents at Fifa head office.

Two days later, Blatter won re-election to a fifth term, but announced the following week that he would step down.

Lauber said his office had seized nine terabytes of data, that’s a terabyte less that the entire collection of printed works on the U.S. Library of Congress.

Authorities said the Swiss investigation targets the decisions to stage the 2018 and 2022 World Cup tournaments in Russia and Qatar respectively.

Asked whether the Swiss investigation could derail Russia’s plans for the 2018 World Cup, Lauber said that decision was his problem.

He said the Swiss probe is completely independent of the ongoing indictment by the U.S. Department of Justice.