Friday 05 August 2016, 07:00

Independent Ethics Committee concludes proceedings regarding Gianni Infantino

After conducting both preliminary and formal investigation proceedings, the investigatory chamber of the independent Ethics Committee has decided to conclude its investigations concerning FIFA President Gianni 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. The preliminary investigations and the formal proceedings followed the proceedings stipulated in the FCE. They included a large number of interviews with witnesses and Mr Infantino himself, as well as an extensive analysis of evidence, and were supported by independent legal opinions. The investigations were carried out diligently over several weeks. The preliminary investigations, led by Djimrabaye Bourngar, deputy chairman of the investigatory chamber, and assisted by Justice Robert Torres, 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 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. Moreover, 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. Due to his Swiss nationality, Dr Cornel Borbély, chairman of the investigatory chamber of the independent Ethics Committee, was not involved in the decision. In accordance with art. 36 pars 1 and 2 of the FCE, it was decided not to communicate Ms Allard’s opening of the formal investigation proceedings in order to ensure independent, unimpaired and focused proceedings based on the considerable volume of documents, information and data produced already during the preliminary investigation.