Top two FIFA officials hire lawyers as Swiss probe bank transactions

Thu Jun 18, 2015 8:47am EDT
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By Karolin Schaps and David Ingram

BERNE/NEW YORK (Reuters) - FIFA's embattled president, Sepp Blatter, and his second-in-command have hired high-powered lawyers to represent them as Swiss authorities identified suspicious bank transactions in a corruption probe engulfing soccer's global governing body.

Blatter recently retained Richard Cullen, the chairman of the law firm McGuireWoods and a former U.S. federal prosecutor, FIFA confirmed in an email to Reuters on Thursday.

Jerome Valcke, FIFA secretary general, has hired prominent New York defense attorney Barry Berke to represent him, FIFA said, adding it had no further comment to make.

Swiss prosecutors looking into the international soccer scandal identified 53 suspicious bank transactions, the country's attorney general said on Wednesday, stressing that the investigation may take time.

Attorney General Michael Lauber told journalists he would not rule out interviewing Blatter and Valcke, although Switzerland had so far targeted no individuals.

Switzerland, where FIFA is based, announced its criminal investigation and seized computers at FIFA headquarters last month on the same day that the United States revealed indictments of nine soccer officials and five businessmen as part of a separate probe into corruption.

"We are faced with a complex investigation with many international implications," Lauber said in his first public comments since his office obtained the computer data last month.

"The world of soccer needs to be patient. By its nature, this investigation will take more than the legendary 90 minutes," he said, referring to the length of a soccer match.   Continued...

A file picture shows FIFA President Sepp Blatter (L) standing in front of executive member Chuck Blazer of the U.S. during the 61st FIFA congress at the Hallenstadion in Zurich June 1, 2011. REUTERS/Arnd Wiegmann