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Swiss prosecutor cleared of wrongdoing in FIFA probe

Swiss prosecutor cleared of wrongdoing in FIFA probe
Soccer Football - Official Draw for the FIFA Club World Cup UAE 2018 - Zurich, Switzerland - September 4, 2018 General view of the FIFA logo before the start of the draw REUTERS/Arnd Wiegmann -
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By John Miller

ZURICH (Reuters) - A top federal Swiss prosecutor has been cleared of wrongdoing after being suspended amid questions about his conduct during investigations into suspected corruption at world soccer body FIFA, a special prosecutor in Zurich said on Friday.

Ulrich Weder, a Zurich prosecutor who had been appointed to investigate, confirmed that his probe into the behaviour of Olivier Thormann, the head of the Swiss Attorney General's (OAG) white-collar crimes unit, has been dropped.

Since taking up his investigation, Weder had looked into possible secrecy violations, favouritism, bribery and accepting benefits, but found Thormann had done nothing wrong.

"The initial suspicion was undermined by the investigation, rather than being substantiated," Weder said, adding his probe against Thormann has been "completely closed".

Thormann had been suspended after Attorney General Michael Lauber in late September received allegations against him involving the OAG's criminal proceedings in the field of soccer and its governing body FIFA.

Initially, Lauber's office raised concern that the allegations "may be of criminal relevance", but Weder said that was not the case.

So far, more than 40 entities and individuals have been charged by U.S. prosecutors in connection with the FIFA investigation. The Swiss OAG has filed no charges in its investigations, to date.

Thormann's suspension was not linked to two meetings between leaders of the OAG and FIFA that became public following publication of the so-called "Football Leaks" earlier this month, the OAG has said.

Thormann's economic crimes division has been investigating many high-profile cases, including into scandals surrounding Malaysian state fund 1MDB and Brazilian energy group Petrobras.

(Reporting by John Miller; Editing by John O'Brien)

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