February 25, 2016 / 5:58 PM / 3 years ago

Swiss send more documents to U.S. in FIFA corruption probe

ZURICH (Reuters) - Swiss authorities have sent more documents, including an internal FIFA report on whether bribery helped countries win World Cup hosting rights, to U.S. investigators probing corruption in world soccer, the justice ministry said.

The FIFA logo is seen outside the FIFA headquarters in Zurich, Switzerland, December 17, 2015. REUTERS/Ruben Sprich

The report by U.S. lawyer Michael Garcia, a former top U.S. government prosecutor brought in by FIFA in 2012 to run its ethics committee’s investigations, has never been made public.

But Swiss authorities probing whether bribery played a role in awarding World Cups to Russia and Qatar were finding that the Garcia report was of little value to them, a source close to the investigations had said in June.

The Swiss justice ministry sent the Garcia report to U.S. authorities on Jan. 14, a ministry spokesman said.

FIFA has also approved the release of additional internal reports that U.S. authorities had requested in December, and these were forwarded last month, he said in an emailed response to a query, declining to give any more details.

Acting under U.S. requests for legal assistance, Swiss justice officials have also begun sharing bank information with U.S. prosecutors. Roughly a quarter of the documents sought by U.S. investigators have been handed over so far, he said.

Rocked by the worst corruption scandal in its history, FIFA is due to elect a new president and adopt a sweeping reform program at a congress on Friday.

Swiss officials have questioned whether Garcia’s report would produce much potential evidence, the source had said, noting Garcia had no subpoena power, did not take sworn testimony and was operating under FIFA’s own ethics rules.

The report, submitted to FIFA last September, has been a mysterious part of the scandal because FIFA declined to publish it, instead releasing a summary by FIFA ethics judge Hans-Joachim Eckert that prompted Garcia to quit in protest.

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.

Reporting by Michael Shields; Editing by Catherine Evans

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