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FIFA officials arrested

India Blooms News Service | | 27 May 2015, 06:38 pm
Zurich, May 27 (BNS) Adding troubles to FIFA, Swiss police have arrested six of its officials from a hotel here on Wednesday.

They were staying in the hotel ahead of the FIFA presidential elections.

In a statement, the Swiss Federal Office of Justice (FOJ) said: "By order of the Federal Office of Justice (FOJ), six soccer officials were arrested in Zurich today (Wednesday) and detained pending extradition. The US authorities suspect them of having received bribes totaling in the USD millions."

"The six soccer functionaries were arrested today in Zurich by the Zurich Cantonal Police . The FOJ’s arrest warrants were issued further to a request by the US authorities. The US Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of New York is investigating these individuals on suspicion of the acceptance of bribes and kick-backs between the early 1990s and the present day. The bribery suspects – representatives of sports media and sports promotion firms – are alleged to have been involved in schemes to make payments to the soccer functionaries – delegates of FIFA (Fédération Internationale de Football Association) and other functionaries of FIFA sub-organizations – totaling more than USD 100 million. In return, it is believed that they received media, marketing, and sponsorship rights in connection with soccer tournaments in Latin America. According to the US request, these crimes were agreed and prepared in the US, and payments were carried out via US banks," read the statement.

The Zurich Cantonal Police will question the detainees on Wednesday on behalf of the FOJ regarding the US request for their arrest.

A simplified procedure will be applied for wanted persons who agree to their immediate extradition.

The FOJ can immediately approve their extradition to the US and order its execution.

However, if a wanted person opposes their extradition, the FOJ will invite the US to submit a formal extradition request within the deadline of 40 days specified in the bilateral extradition treaty.

The attested people include, Eugenio Figueredo, FIFA vice president and executive committee member, CONMEBOL president and Urugauayan soccer federation president, who is in detention pending extradition.

In a statement,US Department of Justice said: "A 47-count indictment was unsealed early this morning in federal court in Brooklyn, New York, charging 14 defendants with racketeering, wire fraud and money laundering conspiracies, among other offenses, in connection with the defendants’ participation in a 24-year scheme to enrich themselves through the corruption of international soccer.  The guilty pleas of four individual defendants and two corporate defendants were also unsealed today."

"The defendants charged in the indictment include high-ranking officials of the Fédération Internationale de Football Association (FIFA), the organization responsible for the regulation and promotion of soccer worldwide, as well as leading officials of other soccer governing bodies that operate under the FIFA umbrella.  Jeffrey Webb and Jack Warner – the current and former presidents of CONCACAF, the continental confederation under FIFA headquartered in the United States – are among the soccer officials charged with racketeering and bribery offenses," it said.

"The defendants also include U.S. and South American sports marketing executives who are alleged to have systematically paid and agreed to pay well over $150 million in bribes and kickbacks to obtain lucrative media and marketing rights to international soccer tournaments," read the statement.

The FIFA said it will cooperate in the investigation into the matter.

"FIFA welcomes actions that can help contribute to rooting out any wrongdoing in football. We understand that today’s actions by the Swiss Federal Office of Justice on behalf of the US authorities and the Swiss Office of the Attorney General (initiated by FIFA through the submission of the file on the 2018/2022 FIFA World Cup bidding process) relate to different matters," the FIFA said in its statement.

"Firstly, the arrest of six individuals this morning in Zurich concerns investigations by theUS Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of the State of New York. The Swiss authorities, acting on behalf of their US counterparts, arrested the individuals for activities carried out in relation with CONCACAF and CONMEBOL business," it said.

The FIFA said: "The second instance follows FIFA’s initiative of presenting the file on the 2018/2022 FIFA World Cup bidding process to the Swiss Office of the Attorney General in November 2014. The authorities are taking the opportunity of the FIFA Congress to interview those FIFA Executive Committee members who are not Swiss residents who voted back in 2010 and are still in office."

"FIFA welcomes actions that can help contribute to rooting out any wrongdoing in football. We understand that today’s actions by the Swiss Federal Office of Justice on behalf of the US authorities and the Swiss Office of the Attorney General (initiated by FIFA through the submission of the file on the 2018/2022 FIFA World Cup bidding process) relate to different matters," read the statement.

"Firstly, the arrest of six individuals this morning in Zurich concerns investigations by theUS Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of the State of New York. The Swiss authorities, acting on behalf of their US counterparts, arrested the individuals for activities carried out in relation with CONCACAF and CONMEBOL business," it said.

"The second instance follows FIFA’s initiative of presenting the file on the 2018/2022 FIFA World Cup bidding process to the Swiss Office of the Attorney General in November 2014. The authorities are taking the opportunity of the FIFA Congress to interview those FIFA Executive Committee members who are not Swiss residents who voted back in 2010 and are still in office," the FIFA said.

"Today, the Swiss Office of the Attorney General announced that it has opened criminal proceedings against persons unknown in relation to the 2018/2022 FIFA World Cup™ bidding process. FIFA is fully cooperating with the investigation and is supporting the collection of evidence in this regard. As noted by the Swiss authorities, this collection of evidence is being carried out on a cooperative basis," it said.

"We are pleased to see that the investigation is being energetically pursued for the good of football and believe that it will help to reinforce measures that FIFA has already taken," it said.
 

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