News 2nd July 2015

US formally asks Switzerland to extradite seven FIFA officials

The United States has asked Switzerland to extradite the seven FIFA officials arrested in Zurich on 27 May, through a formal extradition request submitted to the Federal Office of Justice (FOJ) yesterday evening. The seven were arrested at the Baur au Lac hotel in Zurich ahead of the FIFA Congress that returned Joseph S. Blatter as FIFA President on 28 May.

The seven arrested FIFA officials subject to the formal extradition requests are:
• Jeffrey Webb: Current FIFA Vice President and executive committee member, CONCACAF president, Caribbean Football Union (CFU) executive committee member and Cayman Islands Football Association (CIFA) president.
• Eduardo Li: Current FIFA Executive Committee member-elect, CONCACAF Executive Committee member and Costa Rican soccer federation (FEDEFUT) President.
• Julio Rocha: Current FIFA Development Officer.  Former Central American Football Union (UNCAF) President and Nicaraguan soccer federation (FENIFUT) President.
• Costas Takkas: Current attaché to the CONCACAF President. Former CIFA General Secretary.
• Eugenio Figueredo: Current FIFA Vice President and Executive Committee member.  Former South American football confederation (CONMEBOL) President and Uruguayan soccer federation (AUF) President.
• Rafael Esquivel: Current CONMEBOL Executive Committee member and Venezuelan soccer federation (FVF) President.
• José Maria Marin: Current member of the FIFA organizing committee for the Olympic football tournaments. Former Brazilian football confederation (CBF) President.

A total of nine FIFA officials and five other individuals were named in the DoJ’s 47-count indictment, released on 27 May. Former FIFA President Jack Warner and former CONMEBOL President Nicolás Leoz were not in Zurich, and so were not arrested. Both feature on an Interpol Red Notice issued last month, which informs countries that an arrest warrant have been issued against an individual. The Red Notice also features four of the remaining five individuals indicted by the DoJ:
• Alejandro Burzaco: Controlling Principal of Torneos y Competencias S.A., a sports marketing business based in Argentina, and its affiliates.
• Hugo and Mariano Jinkis: Controlling Principals of Full Play Group S.A., a sports marketing business based in Argentina, and its affiliates.
• José Margulies: Controlling principal of Valente Corp. and Somerton Ltd.

The fifth individual, Aaron Davidson, is President of Traffic Sports USA Inc. Last week, he pleaded not guilty to a number of charges in a Brooklyn Federal Court, reported the New York Daily News. It is understood that Burzaco has handed himself in to Italian police.

‘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’, read today’s statement from the FOJ. ‘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-organisations – totalling more than US$100 million. In return, it is believed that they received media, marketing, and sponsorship rights in connection with soccer tournaments in the United States and 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.’

‘The Zurich Cantonal Police will question the detainees today on behalf of the FOJ regarding the US request for their arrest’, continued the statement. ‘A simplified procedure will apply 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.’

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