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Two FIFA vice presidents among 7 arrested on graft charges

Uruguay football federation boss Eugenio Figueredo and CONCACAF head Jeffrey Webb were arrested with many others

FEATURED WRITER
News 28 May 2015, 12:55 IST
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Jeffrey Webb
CONCACAF head Jeffrey Webb is a vice-president of FIFA

Zurich, May 27 Two vice presidents of FIFA, the world football governing body, are among seven officials arrested by the Swiss Federal Department of Justice and Police on corruption charges following an extradition request by the United States, authorities said on Wednesday. Those who have been arrested include two vice presidents - Uruguay football federation boss Eugenio Figueredo and Confederation of North, Central America and Caribbean Association Football (CONCACAF) head Jeffrey Webb.

The other FIFA executives include Costa Rican football federation head and CONCACAF executive member Eduardo Li, former Brazilian football federation (CBF) president Jose Maria Marin, and Julio Rocha, who serves as the head of two bodies -- Central American Football Union (UNCAF) and the Nicaraguan football federation (FENIFUT).

Two other football officials who have been arrested are Cayman Islands Football Association (CIFA) general secretary and CONCACAF heavyweight Costas Takkas from Britain and Venezuelan football federation supremo Rafael Esquivel.

Those detained were here for activities at FIFA's world headquarters prior to the organisation's congress on Friday where it will elect its president for the next four years. It had been taken for granted that Sepp Blatter would be re-elected for a fifth term but Wednesday's events may change that.

Zurich police officers in plainclothes descended on a luxury hotel at dawn, presented the relevant court orders, and received keys to the suspected officials' rooms. The arrests were made peacefully. Six FIFA officials were arrested in the morning, while one was detained later in the day.

According to a note from the Federal Office of Justice, the bribery suspects, representatives of sports media and promotion firms, are alleged to have been involved in schemes to make payments worth more than $100 million to football functionaries (FIFA delegates) and other functionaries of FIFA sub-organisations.

"In return, it is believed that they received media, marketing, and sponsorship rights in connection with football tournaments in Latin America," the statement added.

The authorities indicated they intend to send those arrested to the United States, which has an extradition treaty with Switzerland, to stand trial in New York where a prosecutor accused them of accepting bribes from the early 1990s onwards, reports Efe.

"The US authorities suspect the arrested officials of having received or paid bribes totalling millions of dollars," the Federal Office of Justice said in a statement.

According to the US extradition request, these crimes were agreed and prepared in the US and payments were made through American banks. The Swiss ministry of justice and police said a simplified procedure will apply to suspects who agree to immediate extradition.

In their case, Swiss authorities can immediately approve extradition to the US and order its execution. However, if the wanted persons oppose their extradition, the Swiss will invite the US to submit a formal extradition request within a 40-day deadline.

Meanwhile, the authorities concerned have ordered the blocking of accounts at several Swiss banks "through which bribes are claimed to have flowed", a statement from the Swiss Federal Office of Justice said.

Three Argentinians involved in FIFA scandal

Buenos Aires, May 28 Three Argentinian businessmen appeared to be involved in the FIFA scandal investigated by the US Department of Justice for accusations of corruption, media reported. The men involved are Alejandro Burzaco, CEO of Torneos y Competencias, and brothers Hugo and Mariano Jinkis, owners of Full Play, in charge of sports marketing for FIFA, reported Xinhua citing local media on Wednesday.

The investigation is led by US Attorney's Office of the Eastern District of New York and thus far has 14 defendants: nine FIFA officials and five corporate executives.

According to the US Department of Justice, seven FIFA officials were arrested in Zurich on Wednesday on the request of the US, among them were vice-presidents Eugenio Figueredo (Uruguay) and Nicolas Leoz (Paraguay), the latter is the former president of South American Confederation of Football (CONMEBOL).

Among accusations are awarding the seat of the World Cup tournament and the broadcasting rights, for which they would have allegedly committed fraud, mismanagement and money laundering.

Nicaraguan official arrested for FIFA scandal

Managua, May 28 Among the seven FIFA executives arrested for alleged corruption is FIFA Development Office employee Julio Rocha, a Nicaraguan citizen, said a media report here on Thursday, citing a source.

Rocha, over 60 years old, headed FENIFUT for nearly 25 years. He quit office in December 2012 and he went on to join the FIFA Development Office for Mexico, Central America, Dominican Republic, Cuba, and Puerto Rico, Xinhua news agency reported.

He was also president of the Central American Union of Football (UNCAF).

Nicaraguan Football Federation (FENIFUT) spokesperson Moises Avalos said the federation distances itself from any kind of link to the FIFA scandal, which led to the arrest of 14 renowned world football leaders in Zurich on Wednesday morning, Xinhua said.

Among others arrested are FIFA Uruguayan vice president Eugenio Figueredo, Paraguayan executive member of CONMEBOL Rafael Esquivel, and member of the FIFA Organisation of the Olympic Games, Brazilian Jose Marin.

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