U.S. requests extradition of seven FIFA officials after Zurich arrests

Source:  espnfc.com
July 2 2015

The Swiss Federal Office of Justice has received a formal request from the United States to extradite seven FIFA officials arrested in Zurich in May.

The requests were received on Wednesday, within the deadline required by a bilateral treaty.

A lengthy process

The process is, however, likely to be a lengthy one as the seven can challenge any extradition ruling, and can appeal to two higher courts. All seven men detained in Zurich, including three current and former members of FIFA’s executive committee, already have objected to extradition. They face around 20 years in prison if convicted of the charges.

Bribery worth more than $100 million

The extradition requests are based on a U.S. probe into alleged bribery worth more than $100 million involving high-ranking officials at football’s world governing body.

CONCACAF President Jeffery Webb

Jeffery Webb

Six of the seven, including FIFA vice president and former CONCACAF president Jeffrey Webb, were arrested during a dawn raid on a Zurich hoteldays before FIFA’s Congress, plunging the world governing body into crisis.

A statement from the Federal Office of Justice said: “The USA has asked Switzerland to extradite the seven FIFA officials arrested in Zurich. The formal extradition requests were submitted to the Federal Office of Justice (FOJ) yesterday evening.

“The seven FIFA officials were arrested in Zurich on May 27, 2015, on the basis of a request from the USA, and detained pending extradition,” it said.

“On July 1, 2015, the US embassy in Bern submitted the formal extradition requests within the deadline laid down in the bilateral extradition treaty.

Arrest warrants issued by the United States

“The requests are based on the arrest warrants issued on May 20, 2015, by the United States Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of New York, which is investigating the high-ranking FIFA officers on suspicion of taking bribes worth over $100 million.”

The seven will be heard by Zurich police and granted a 14-day period to respond to federal officials about the extradition request, the Swiss justice ministry said.

Swiss justice officials will then rule “within a few weeks” on whether to extradite them. That ruling can be appealed to Switzerland’s top criminal court and supreme court.

Sepp Blatter

Sepp Blatter

On Wednesday, Sepp Blatter challenged his critics to prove that he is corrupt, and insisted that anybody who accuses him of guilt by association to the corruption scandal engulfing world football’s governing body “should go to jail.”

Blatter announced on June 2 he would step down as FIFA president at an extraordinary congress to be held between December and March.

The Swiss is himself reportedly under investigation by the FBI and will not attend the Women’s World Cup final in Canada this week because of the twin investigations by American and Swiss justice authorities.

The seven officials arrested

In addition to the Cayman Islands’ Webb, the seven officials arrested include Eugenio Figueredo of Uruguay, who was arrested two days before his FIFA vice presidential term expired.

The group also includes Costa Rican football federation president Eduardo Li, who was arrested two days before he was due to formally join FIFA’s executive committee, as well as former Brazilian federation chief Jose Maria Marin, who led the 2014 World Cup local organizing committee and is a member of the FIFA panel organizing the men’s and women’s tournaments at next year’s Olympic Games.

The others are Venezuela FA chief Rafael Esquivel; FIFA staffer Julio Rocha, a development officer from Nicaragua; and Costas Takkas, a Briton who works for CONCACAF president Webb.

Jack Warner

Jack Warner

The other seven among the 14 indicted

The other seven men among the 14 indicted include disgraced former FIFA vice president Jack Warner of Trinidad and Tobago, and former FIFA executive committee member Nicolas Leoz of Paraguay, the longtime former president of South American governing body CONMEBOL.

Four men have entered guilty pleas

Chuck Blazer

Chuck Blazer

A further four men have entered guilty pleas which were unsealed in May. They include American former FIFA executive panel member Chuck Blazer and two sons of Warner. The indictment revealed that Blazer admitted being part of a $10 million bribe scheme with Warner for supporting South Africa’s successful bid to host the 2010 World Cup.

A third South American FIFA voter was also involved, Blazer alleged.

FIFA has acknowledged that its secretary general, Jerome Valcke, helped transfer the money through its accounts at South Africa’s request. FIFA and Valcke said the cash was believed to be for football projects for the African diaspora in the Caribbean, and was approved by Julio Grondona of Argentina, the chairman of FIFA’s finance committee who died last year.

American law enforcement officials have confirmed that Blatter is a target of the investigation, which is expected to bring more indictments due to pressure built from an American case and a separate Swiss federal investigation of money laundering linked to the 2018 and 2022 World Cup hosting awards to Russia and Qatar, respectively.

Blatter cannot be extradited from his native Switzerland to the U.S. without his consent. Still, he risks arrest in many countries.

Source: U.S. requests extradition of seven FIFA officials after Zurich arrests  espnfc.com

2 thoughts on “U.S. requests extradition of seven FIFA officials after Zurich arrests

  1. The corrupted FIFA officials like all corrupt officials in any and every organization and country should have their day in court. Needless to say like all accused, those FIFA accused of corruption should like anyone else be assumed to be innocent until proven guilty by the preponderance of evidence against them in a court of law.

    Personally, I believe firmly that the corruption case against the fourteen FIFA officials should be vigorously pursued and prosecuted though it should be done with fairness which for me means absolutely no violations of the accused rights under the law. In this regard, I should make it equally clear that I am no fan of the FIFA officials in question as I too suspect that they are probably guilty of the charges. However, I am aware that suspicion of guilt is not the same thing as ‘guilt itself ‘ in a court of law.

    Having said the foregoing, I am very curious as to why the US law enforcement officials including the DOJ and the FBI are so interested in having these FIFA officials extradited from Switzerland to the US. Why can’t these FIFA officials be tried in Switzerland where the American fugitive billionaire Mr. Rich still resides after failing to pay his fair share of taxes among other corruption charges? Indeed, Mr. Rich was pardoned by President Clinton who is a pal of his ex wife Dawn Rich who I believe donated size able sums of money to the Clinton Library. There were many political commentators who even questioned Clinton’s pardon of Mr. Rich in the waning hours of his presidency as corrupted. In other words the suggestion was that the donations of Rich’s ex- wife to the Clinton library was in effect payment for his pardon.

    I believe that the Switzerland’s legal system is as capable if not more so to deliver Justice to these accused FIFA officials and as such it is very questionable as to why US officials are so worked up about trying them in the US. There is multiple evidence of accused persons particularly those of color who have stayed in jails for years before trial. Indeed, just recently a young black man in the Bronx committed suicide after spending three years in jail at Rakers island where he was abused by other inmates and prison guard on suspicion of stealing a bag. There are also prisoners who are subject to 23 hours solitary confinement which is defined as torture by many legal scholars in the international legal community. Indeed, there are innocent people particularly black folks who have spent decades in American prisons as convicts on very serious charges such as rape, murder and robbery only to be exonerated by DNA technology. Even more seriously, there are innocent Americans who have been executed by the state for crimes they did not commit.

    Clearly, the argument here is not that the FIFA officials accused of corruption will experience any of the structural biases in the American Justice system referenced earlier. Those structural biases are typically reserved for poor people and more so for people of color in the US. In other words, it has to do with the inherently class bias of the US Justice system that frequently delivers injustice for the poor and people of color and ‘justice” for the rich and the elites even when they have clearly committed crimes including crimes of corruption and theft as in the case of Wall Street banksters. Instead, the point here is to ponder the rationale of the US government to pursue the extradition of these officials presumably for trial in the US given that they can be tried in Switzerland and other jurisdictions but also given that the US Justice system has all those structural problems already cited that are known around the world.

    Finally, it is worth considering whether the motive of the US government is purely the alleged corruption of the FIFA officials or whether it involves geopolitical concerns such as FIFA’s awarding of Russia (a major US rival), the 2018 World Cup Champsionship games whether by corrupt or other means. If in fact the concerns of the US is purely corruption and bribery, then the DOJ and the FBI should still be very busy actively investigating and convicting dozens of Wall Street banksters for their fraudulent loans to millions of Americans who they knew did not qualify for such loans. They would also be busy investigating and convicting hundreds or thousands of real estate appraisers who in collusion with banksters and companies like Moody’s that assign financial grades to investments that almost destroyed not only the US economy but also the world economy. The FIFA officials allegedly accepted bribes worth $100 million dollars and though they must be tried for these allegations of corruption, that is very small change when compared to the multi-billion or multi- trillion dollar Wall Street corruption scam against millions of Americans and foreigners. Furthermore, where was the vigorous investigation of the DOJ and the FBI into that criminal and murder Pinochet who stole millions from the Chilean people and invested some in American banks including the former Riggs Bank now PNC? Weren’t Pinochet’s actions also corrupt? What about the lack of persecution of Fernidad Marcos of the Phillipines who stole according to some estimates about $13 billion from his people and was given exile in the US? and what about Mobutu in former Zaire who stole through corrupted means over $32 billion from his improvised people and the Central American and South American and Haitian dictators? Where were the zealous investigations into these cases of criminals and murders who did the political biddings of the US that we are seeing for the FIFA officials accused of corruption?

    My point here in closing is in NO way meant to excuse or to be lenient towards the corruption charges against the FIFA officials. On the contrary, my point is not only to expose the hypocrisy and inconsistency of the US government but also to suggest that these officials can be given a fair and firm Justice in other jurisdictions like Switzerland.

    As such, the DOJ and the FBI should spare the American taxpayers potentially millions of dollars to prosecute this case against these FIFA officials by allowing them to face Justice elsewhere.

    It is time the American government stop playing the role of global cop and begin to recognize that other countries including those with whom it has extradiction treaties like Switzerland have the legal capacities to justly try these FIFA officials.

    Peace if you are willing to fight for it!

    • I would like to make the following corrections to my article above
      Marc Rich the fugitive from US Justice for tax invasion and other illegal acts died in 2013 in Switzerland where he resided until his death

      Marc Rich’s ex-wife is Denise Rich not Dawn Rich as I incorrectly stated in my article.

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