FIFA's Ethics Commitee is apparently considering a second investigation into Gianni Infantino's conduct inside his eight-month tenure as president after reports that he authorised a loan to the Slovenian Football Association (NZS) in the summer of 2015.
The €4-million payment was sanctioned by Infantino during his reign as UEFA general secretary, and ESPN FC's Vivek Chaudhary reports that FIFA's independent Ethics Committee could meet by the end of next week to decide whether it'll open formal proceedings against him.
"The head of the Ethics Committee is looking at all the media reports about this matter and other information that has been provided, including financial reports of both UEFA and the NZS," a source told ESPN FC. "A decision is expected by next Friday on a formal investigation."
The stories allege that Infantino could've circumnavigated two FIFA codes in agreeing to loan the fee to the NZS.
First, the claim that €3.6 million of the lent funds were used to buy shares in a Slovenian betting company (Sportna Loterija) would be a clear breach of FIFA guidelines.
Secondly, the money received by the NZS is believed to have been approved by Infantino, former UEFA president Michel Platini, vice-president Marios Lefkaritis, finance director Josef Koller, and the recently appointed general secretary Theodore Theodoridis – rather than via the usual means of UEFA's Finance Committee.
The direct recipient of the loan was the former head of the NZS, Aleksander Ceferin. The former lawyer was drafted in as UEFA president last month.
In a statement UEFA insisted that "standard proceedures" were followed in the reported transaction between European football authority and the NZS.
"The Finance Committee was not 'sidestepped,' as this article mistakenly suggests," it read. "The loan was granted in accordance with an established framework procedure approved and agreed by the UEFA Finance Committee.
"The purpose for which the loan funds was used was also fully legitimate."
The NZS, meanwhile, has pledged to fully cooperate with any forthcoming investigation.
Should proceedings be made against the conduct of Infantino, it comes on the heels of when his name was cleared for ethics violations at the start of August. He was found innocent of numerous accusations including hiring unqualified personnel, boarding planes paid for by a World Cup bidding country, and billing FIFA for things such as travel and laundry.
For Infantino, a man who upon being elected as FIFA president in February vowed to clean up an organisation shamed by years of corruption, the repeated unsavoury headlines over his conduct don't provide much hope of a straight world football governing body anytime soon.
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