Switzerland: FIFA Ethics Committee clears Infantino of allegations against him

Zurich, Switzerland (PANA) - The Independent Ethics Committee of football's governing body, FIFA, has cleared its president Gianni Infantino of any wrongdoing in several allegations against him.

A statement on the FIFA website on Friday said after conducting both preliminary and formal investigation proceedings, the investigatory chamber of the independent Ethics Committee has decided to conclude its investigations concerning Mr Infantino.

"It was found that no violation of the FIFA Code of Ethics (FCE) had been committed by Mr Infantino. The adjudicatory chamber took note of and accepted the decision of the investigatory chamber."

Mr Infantino in a statement said he was pleased that the investigatory chamber of the independent Ethics Committee has determined that “no violation of the FIFA Code of Ethics (FCE) has been committed”.

"With this matter now resolved, the President and the FIFA administration will continue to focus on developing football as well as their efforts to improve the organisation. Tangible progress has been made in key areas such as ensuring that those who have acted against the interests of football are identified and held to account, improving FIFA’s governance and repairing its reputation, and restoring trust with its stakeholders. This critical work will continue," Mr Infantino said.

The preliminary investigations against Mr Infantino were led by Djimrabaye Bourngar, deputy chairman of the investigatory chamber, and assisted by Justice Robert Torres. They focused on potential breaches of art. 13 (General rules of conduct), art. 15 (Loyalty), art. 19 (Conflicts of interest) and art. 20 (Offering and accepting gifts) of the FCE.

The statement said the evidence gathered suggested prima facie cases of FCE violations with regard to several flights taken by Mr Infantino during the first months of his presidency, human resources matters related to hiring processes in the President’s office, and Mr Infantino’s refusal to sign the contract specifying his employment relationship with FIFA.

In accordance with art. 28 par. 3 of the FCE, Mr Bourngar decided to open formal proceedings regarding these matters. Other allegations related to expenses and governance issues had also been investigated but did not lead to any prima facie cases.

"During the formal investigation proceedings, led by Vanessa Allard, member of the investigatory chamber, the materials related to the prima facie cases identified during the preliminary investigations were assessed. After examining all relevant evidence thoroughly, Ms Allard concluded that the occurrences related to the flights taken by Mr Infantino did not represent FCE violations.

"In particular, no relevant situations involving conflicts of interest related to Mr Infantino’s position as FIFA President were identified, and the benefits enjoyed by Mr Infantino were not considered improper in the light of applicable FIFA rules and regulations," the statement said.

It went on that Ms Allard found that the human resources matters, as well as Mr. Infantino’s conduct with regard to his contract with FIFA, if at all, constituted internal compliance issues rather than an ethical matter. As such, the final report prepared by Ms Allard concluded that no ethical breaches had been committed by Mr Infantino.

In order to guarantee a complete assessment of the allegations, the decisions of the investigatory chamber were reviewed by the chairman and the deputy chairman of the adjudicatory chamber, Hans-Joachim Eckert and Alan Sullivan, respectively. After review, they did not raise any objection to the investigatory chamber’s decision to conclude the investigations.

The statement said due to his Swiss nationality, Dr Cornel Borbély, chairman of the investigatory chamber of the independent Ethics Committee, was not involved in the decision.
-0- PANA MA/AR 5Aug2016

05 august 2016 16:23:22

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