March 8, 2018 / 12:38 PM / 9 days ago

Swiss, Qatar step up mutual assistance in criminal probes

ZURICH (Reuters) - Switzerland and Qatar will step up cooperation in criminal investigations under a new accord to expedite mutual legal assistance, the Swiss government said on Thursday.

After a memorandum of understanding was signed this week, central authorities of both states will deal with each other directly in drafting requests for assistance, the Federal Office of Justice (FOJ) said.

“These efforts are also in the interests of a clean Swiss financial centre,” it said in a statement.

An FOJ spokesman said Qatar had taken the initiative for the accord, which was not related to Swiss prosecutors’ investigation into whether bribes played a role in world soccer body FIFA awarding Qatar the hosting rights for the 2022 World Cup.

Prosecutors last year opened an investigation into Jerome Valcke, the banned former FIFA secretary general, and Nasser Al-Khelaifi, the chief executive of Qatar’s beIN Media, over World Cup broadcasting deals.

Neither has been charged and both deny any wrongdoing.

Reporting by Michael Shields, editing by Pritha Sarkar

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