Swiss lawmakers pave way for 'Lex FIFA' anti-corruption law

Fri Sep 11, 2015 6:39am EDT
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ZURICH (Reuters) - Lawmakers in Switzerland have paved the way for new rules that make it easier for authorities to clamp down on corruption at sporting bodies based in the country such as FIFA.

The Swiss authorities are currently carrying out a criminal probe into how FIFA, world soccer's governing body, awarded the 2018 and 2022 World Cups to Russia and Qatar respectively.

The United States is also investigating alleged financial wrongdoing by soccer officials stretching back more than two decades.

Anti-corruption campaigners have pushed Swiss authorities for years to bring sporting bodies -- once a source of national prestige -- under more legal scrutiny.

Both chambers of parliament have now agreed to the latest draft of the new law, so closely associated with FIFA that it has been dubbed "Lex FIFA", the FIFA law.

The senate approved it on Thursday. A final vote on the law will be held on Sept. 25, a spokesman for parliament said. Assuming it passes and is not challenged in a referendum, it will likely come into force some time in 2016.

The law would let Swiss authorities investigate suspected private corruption without first receiving an official complaint from inside the organization in question.

As it made its way through parliament, some lawmakers have complained that the bill had been watered down in parts. The law would allow for exemptions in cases where the public interest is not threatened, and complaints would still need to be lodged for authorities to look into "mild cases" of corruption.

(Reporting by Joshua Franklin; Editing by Hugh Lawson)