BERN, June 17. /TASS/. Swiss prosecutors were granted access to 104 bank transactions related to selection of the hosting nations for the 2010, 2018 and 2022 FIFA World Cups amid an ongoing investigation in the most sound corruption scandal in the world’s governing body of football, Switzerland's Attorney General Michael Lauber said on Wednesday.
The rights to host the 2018 and 2022 World Cups belong to Russia and Qatar respectively following relevant elections in line with FIFA’s official regulations.
"So far our investigative team obtained evidence concerning 104 banking relations," Laubet said addressing a news conference in Switzerland’s Bern. "And be aware that every banking relation represents several bank accounts."
Speaking for the first time with journalists after the Swiss prosecutors launched the investigation last month Lauber said that FIFA President Sepp Blatter and General Secretary Jerome Valcke were likely to be summoned for interviewing within the frames of the probe.
"There will be formal interviews of all relevant people. By definition, this does not exclude interviewing the president of FIFA and/or its secretary general," Lauber said.
The Swiss attorney general said the investigation "procedure is huge and complex on many levels" and involves a great deal of specialists.
"Our investigation is of great complexity and quite substantial," he said. "The OAG [Office of Attorney General] has seized around nine terabytes of data. You find in the task-force specialized and experienced prosecutors, experts in mutual legal assistance and a specialized forensic IT team from the Federal Criminal Police."
The senior law officer also said that in addition to 104 banking relations exposed by the prosecutors Swiss banks reported on additional 53 baking transactions suspected to be part of money laundering scheme.
"We note positively that banks in Switzerland did fulfil their duties to file suspicious activity reports," Lauber said. "Partly in addition to the 104 banking relations already known to the authorities, banks announced 53 suspicious banking relations via the Anti-Money-Laundering framework of Switzerland."
An unprecedented corruption scandal flared up in FIFA in the morning of May 27, one day before the 65th FIFA Congress in Zurich, as seven of the organization’s high-ranking officials were arrested in Switzerland on bribery, money laundering and corruption charges. The scandal involves two separate criminal proceedings.
Firstly, the US Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of New York is conducting a criminal investigation into the awarding of media, marketing and sponsorship rights for soccer tournaments in the United States and Latin America. Secondly, the Swiss Office of the Attorney General is conducting a criminal investigation into the selection of Russia as the host country for the 2018 World Cup and Qatar as the host country for 2022.
The arrests of the seven FIFA top officials were made by the Swiss police at the request from the US authorities and they are now facing extradition to the United States.
The US Department of Justice announced on May 27 that a total of 14 people (nine FIFA officials and five corporate executives) were indicted for racketeering conspiracy and corruption.
"A 47-count indictment was unsealed early this morning in federal court in Brooklyn, New York, charging 14 defendants with racketeering, wire fraud and money laundering conspiracies, among other offenses, in connection with the defendants’ participation in a 24-year scheme to enrich themselves through the corruption of international soccer," the statement from the US justice body said.
On top of all, shortly after FIFA President Sepp Blatter announced his plans to resign on June 2, some media reports informed that the FIFA chief was being investigated by the FBI and US prosecutors as part of the corruption case in the organization.
Blatter, 79, was reelected for his fifth consecutive four-year presidential term on May 29, when his only rival Prince Ali Bin Al Hussein of Jordan pulled out after the first round of vote. However, addressing a news conference in Zurich on June 2, Blatter said he decided to lay down his mandate at FIFA extraordinary elective Congress.