Media conference of September 14, 2015

Bern, 14.09.2015 - Speech of Michael Lauber, Attorney General of Switzerland

Remarks are prepared for delivery 

Sehr geehrte Damen und Herren

Ich bedanke mich bei Ihnen für Ihr Interesse an unserer Arbeit und für Ihr Kommen. Da der grösste Teil der anwesenden Medienschaffenden aus dem Ausland kommt erlauben Sie mir, dass ich meine Ausführungen in Englisch halten werde.

Thank you for your interest in our work and your presence at this Media conference.

It is a particular pleasure to host this Media conference today with my counterpart from the United States of America, Attorney General Loretta Lynch.

Following my invitation, Attorney General Lynch has come to Switzerland in order to contribute at the annual conference of IAP, the International Association of Prosecutors. IAP this year is an extraordinary setting as around 10 Attorney Generals and about 500 Prosecutors from all over the world are gathering these days here in Zurich.

International cooperation is one of the main topics being discussed during the conference.

International cooperation is of paramount importance when we talk about white-collar crime, money laundering and corruption.

We talk about global criminal threats and we have to find answers in combating these phenomenon’s, knowing that each jurisdiction has its own specialties and mainly reaches out only on its own territory.

IAP is setting a unique platform to exchange experience but also to improve the personal network.

Knowing each other, knowing the special challenges of the respective jurisdiction, this is also crucial when we want to fight efficiently terrorism and cybercrime.

On May 27, my office, the Office of the Attorney General of Switzerland seized electronic data and documents at FIFA’s headquarters in Zurich.

The same day, but in separate proceedings, and independently of the Swiss criminal investigation, football officials and suspected bribers have been arrested in Zurich and placed in detention, pending extradition.

 The public interest in the Swiss investigation is enormous. This is why we decided to share today with you an update on our proceedings. These criminal investigations are led in Switzerland by a specifically designed Taskforce.

·        House searches have been conducted in Switzerland and further evidence has been collected. Where proportional and needed, financial assets have been seized, including real estate, for example flats in the Swiss Alps. At this point I would like to emphasis that investments in real estate can be misused for the purpose of money laundering.

As of today, 121 different bank accounts have been brought to the attention our Task Force by the Swiss Financial Intelligence Unit, MROS. Banks in Switzerland are fulfilling their duties of the law by filing suspicious transaction reports to MROS. MROS is of great support to our investigation by conducting professional analysis of the filed data. However this positive input comes with a high price, as in a time consuming process, these intelligence reports have to be proceeded accordingly at our end. We have to decide for each and every report, whether to open a new investigation, join it to an existing one and whether the assets have to be frozen. As this is an ongoing process. It is therefore too early to name a specific figure of frozen assets. I prefer not to share this information also for tactical reasons. 

·        Additional people have been questioned and we obtained information, relevant to our investigation.

·        We are cooperating with other Swiss authorities that provide us with a valuable support.

·        Information from different sources has to be analyzed and processed. Let me remind you that we seized huge amounts of electronic data which comes to around 11 Terabytes so far – you may imagine what this means in terms of time and resource requirements for our ongoing criminal proceedings. As I said during my last Media conference in Bern in June, by its nature, this investigation will take much more than the legendry 90 minutes. Let me however assure you, that we are well aware of the public’s interest in this investigation and have clearly prioritized based on the interests at stake, but clearly: we are not even near the half-time break.

·        We are also looking for means to accelerate the procedure, in this context an additional challenge might be seen in the fact that some of the information of interest to our criminal proceedings is under seal. Certainly, it would be helpful if parties involved would cooperate more substantially.

One question has arisen in our minds as, since we opened our criminal case against unknown persons: Almost no foreign jurisdiction has requested mutual legal assistance so far. One can only speculate on why this is how it is.

As for the relationship with our US colleagues:

·        We, the Swiss and the U.S. authorities, are involved in two separate proceedings. Each of us is conducting its own investigation, we are equal partners, working each in a different legal environment. The ordinary way in which we cooperate is the one of mutual legal assistance. In international cases, we are of the opinion that it is essential for the international justice that the most appropriate jurisdiction shall at the end pass judgement on respective cases.

·        Bearing this in mind, I can confirm that my office together with the office of Attorney General Lynch is considering continuously the scope of criminal investigation. There is however no joint investigation team working.

·        Here in Switzerland my office, in executing our criminal legal framework, puts a special focus on criminal mismanagement and money laundering.

Ladies and gentlemen, it is now my great pleasure to give the floor to my US counterpart, Attorney General Loretta Lynch.

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