FIFA says will give Swiss prosecutors access to key emails ‘with conditions’
Swiss prosecutors probing corruption in world football received a pledge from FIFA on Thursday that investigators would get access to the emails of suspended secretary general Jerome Valcke if certain conditions were met.
Switzerland’s Attorney General Michael Lauber has demanded access to all of Valcke’s emails as part of his inquiry into the bidding process for the 2018 and 2022 World Cups.
Lauber has obtained troves of electronic documents in connection with the case, but the correspondence of Valcke — FIFA chief Sepp Blatter’s former right-hand man — has so far been blocked.
But on Thursday, “FIFA informed the Office of the Attorney General of Switzerland that FIFA will grant access to Mr. Jerome Valcke’s email accounts if several conditions are fulfilled,” said a statement sent to AFP by Andre Marty, a spokesman for Lauber.
The pledge from FIFA came as its executive committee met in Zurich, where top officials were to receive updates on the various crisis surrounding world football’s scandal-ridden governing body.
Blatter is set to face the media on Friday, where he will confront questions about the Swiss investigation, a separate US prosecution looking at decades of graft in world football, as well as the sudden dismissal of Valcke.
– ‘Committed’ to help –
Valcke was put on indefinite leave last week over accusations he agreed to let World Cup tickets be sold at vastly inflated prices. The Frenchman strongly denied the allegations.
Swiss prosecutors, who demanded access to Valcke’s correspondence before he was dismissed, gave no indication as to the nature of the conditions imposed by FIFA in exchange for unblocking the emails.
FIFA earlier on Thursday insisted it was “committed” to helping any investigation.
The attorney general has previously said assets including flats in the Swiss Alps had been seized as part of his probe, which he warned was “not even at half time.”
Lauber has not named any individuals who could face criminal charges in Switzerland and so it was not clear if Valcke was the main target.
But, before his ouster, the ex-secretary general had already been under fire after being implicated in an alleged bribe paid by South Africa in connection with its hosting of the 2010 World Cup.
Russia and Qatar won hosting rights for the 2018 and 2022 World Cups respectively, but they could be stripped of the tournaments if clear evidence emerges that bribes were paid, FIFA officials have said.
– Blatter to face questions –
Since its executive committee last met, the crises surrounding FIFA have intensified.
On Wednesday, the Swiss justice ministry approved the extradition to the US of Rafael Esquivel, a Venezuelan ex-FIFA official who was among those arrested in a dawn raid in Zurich in May.
Switzerland has also approved the transfer to US jurisdiction of former FIFA vice-president Eugenio Figueredo, a Uruguayan, with extradition decisions on four other suspects due in the coming days.
Also last week, US Attorney General Loretta Lynch said her case was expanding and was likely to see more people being charged.
It was Lynch who uncorked the crisis at FIFA in May, when her office unsealed indictments against 14 people – nine football officials and five sports marketing executives – accused of involvement in a bribery scandal worth more than $150 million dollars (134 million euros) since 1991.
Blatter’s press conference is scheduled for 2:00 pm (1400 GMT) on Friday, after the executive committee receives FIFA’s internal update on the Swiss and US investigations.
Also on the agenda for the meet are the initial proposals from FIFA’s new reform committee, which has, among other measures, floated the idea of term-limits for the body’s president and greater financial transparency on compensation for top officials.