Exclusive: Swiss authorities probing FIFA say Garcia report of little help - source

Tue Jun 23, 2015 1:20pm EDT
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By Mark Hosenball and David Ingram

LONDON/NEW YORK (Reuters) - Swiss authorities investigating whether there was corruption in the awarding of World Cup hosting rights to Russia and Qatar are finding that a report produced by U.S. lawyer Michael Garcia at the end of an internal FIFA inquiry is of little value to their probe, according to a source close to investigations into the soccer governing body.

    Swiss officials question whether Garcia’s report, which has not been made public, has significant evidentiary value, said the source, who spoke to Reuters on the condition of anonymity. That is because Garcia, who was hired by FIFA, had no subpoena power, did not take sworn testimony, and was operating under FIFA's own ethical rules, which had little enforcement power behind them, the source added.

    Switzerland’s Attorney General Michael Lauber told reporters last week that the FBI, which has been conducting its own wide-ranging probe into corruption in FIFA and its affiliates, has not asked him or his office for a copy of the Garcia report, and he hadn’t provided the U.S. authorities with one. A U.S. law enforcement official told Reuters earlier this month that the FBI did not have a copy of Garcia's report.

    Garcia, a former top U.S. government prosecutor, was brought in by FIFA in 2012 to run its ethics committee’s investigations, including examining allegations of corruption.

     The report, submitted to FIFA last September, has been a mysterious part of the growing scandal because FIFA not only declined to publish it but instead released a summary by FIFA ethics judge Hans-Joachim Eckert that prompted Garcia to quit in protest in December. Eckert concluded that any impairment of integrity in the bidding process was only of “very limited scope” and it was far from reaching any threshold that would require reopening the bidding process for the two World Cups.

Garcia said at the time that the summary contained misrepresentations and that he had lost confidence in the independence of Eckert. He also criticized the “lack of leadership” in FIFA, and said he couldn’t change the organization’s culture.

Garcia was not available for comment and is declining media interviews about FIFA, a spokeswoman for Garcia’s law firm, Kirkland & Ellis, said on Tuesday.

Spokespeople for U.S. prosecutors and for the FBI declined to comment on Tuesday.   Continued...

The logo of soccer's international governing body FIFA is seen on its headquarters in Zurich October 3, 2013. REUTERS/Arnd Wiegmann