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The world just changed: Swiss open criminal proceedings against Sepp Blatter

The Swiss enforcement authorities have just opened criminal proceedings against Sepp Blatter for improper financial transactions involving Jack Warner and Michael Platini. 

To date, with FIFA as with the FCPA, the U.S. had been the lead enforcer, with Switzerland and other countries playing minor supporting roles. The U.S.-centric nature of the FIFA investigation may have just come to an end. And what an important precedent this sets for global anti-corruption enforcement.

The Swiss have long occupied the peculiar position of scoring near the top of the Corruption Perceptions Index rankings, while notoriously housing much of the world’s illicit financial dealings. Among the least corrupt of countries, it knowingly tolerated, and benefited from, systemic worldwide corruption. 

There can be no question that a changing Swiss enforcement culture is critical to effective global anti-corruption enforcement. Opening proceedings against Blatter may herald a new era.

And what of Platini? The leader of European football and leading candidate to replace Blatter, his name is now mentioned in the same breath as Jack Warner.  We do not yet know what role Platini may have played in the endemic corruption to which he now claims to be the remedy. This story has just begun.

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Andy Spalding is a Senior Editor of the FCPA Blog and Associate Professor at the University of Richmond School of Law.

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