Extradition hearing for FIFA officials draws near
With just one week to go before the US must file papers against FIFA officials arrested in Switzerland for their extradition to America, one of the men arrested alongside Caymanian Jeffrey Webb has been refused bail. Without naming him, the Swiss authorities stated that the individual was a flight risk, but according to Swiss media, the man appealing for bail was Eugenio Figueredo (83) from Uruguay, who is said to be in poor health.
Webb (50) and all his fellow detainees are all fighting the extradition to the US and are expected to appear before a Swiss court soon after the US completes the paperwork next Friday. This is likely to be a closed-door hearing before a Swiss justice official and whatever the Swiss court decides can be appealed.
Switzerland has an extradition treaty with the United States covering offences that are crimes in both countries, which means if the charges are not a crime in Switzerland then the men would not be extradited. But authorities in Zürich have stated that the alleged bribery charges would distort competition and violate the Swiss unfair competition act.
On 27 May, Webb, Figueredo, Rafael Esquivel, Jose Maria Marin, Julio Rocha, Costas Takkas and Eduardo Li were all detained on behalf of US authorities following a dawn raid at the luxury hotel Baur au Lac in Zürich, where they were staying ahead of the annual FIFA Congress.
In the wake of the arrest, US Attorney General Loretta Lynch held a press conference detailing a $150 million bribery and corruption investigation covering more than two decades by the US Department of Justice and other agencies, including the FBI and IRS, into the world footballing body and its officials. US prosecutors claim the investigation exposes complex money laundering schemes, millions of dollars in untaxed incomes and tens of millions in offshore accounts held by FIFA officials.
Earlier this week the attorney for Webb’s CONCACAF colleague, Eduardo Li from Costa Rica, said his client was innocent and described the prosecution as a “legal absurdity”, according to media reports. The attorney said there was no evidence Li took bribes or participated in a criminal enterprise and the US authorities had incorrectly assumed soccer federation accounts were the same as Li’s personal ones and were attempting to put pressure on his client to lie and implicate others.