(WFI) The United States has asked Switzerland to extradite seven FIFA officials arrested on corruption charges in dawn raids in Zurich in May.
Switzerland’s Federal Office of Justice has confirmed that formal extradition requests for were submitted on Wednesday.
“The US embassy in Bern submitted the formal extradition requests within the deadline laid down in the bilateral extradition treaty,” said the FOJ in a statement.
“The requests are based on the arrest warrants issued on 20 May 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. In return, those suspected of paying the bribes – representatives of sports media and sports promotion firms – are believed to have received media, marketing and sponsorship rights for soccer tournaments in the United States and in Latin America. These crimes are thought to have been agreed and prepared in the USA, and payments were allegedly routed through US banks.”
Jeffrey Webb, the former FIFA vice-president and CONCACAF chief, is the most high-profile figure of the seven arrested by Swiss police in a raid on the Baur au Lac on 27 May, two days before the FIFA Congress.
Former FIFA vice president Eugenio Figueredo of Uruguay and ex-Brazilian FA chief Jose Maria Marin are also in the group facing corruption charges.
They are among 14 FIFA officials and corporate executives indicted on charges of corruption following a U.S. Department of Justice and FBI investigation into a $150 million bribery scandal that has shredded FIFA’s reputation and that of its outgoing president Sepp Blatter.
The United States Department of Justice brought charges on racketeering, wire fraud, and money laundering. It was dubbed the “World Cup of corruption” by Richard Weber, chief of the Internal Revenue Service Criminal Investigation unit.
Having already objected to extradition, the seven men, currently being held prisons in the Zurich region will be granted hearings and given 14 days to respond to the extradition requests. This time limit may be extended by 14 days “if sufficient grounds exist”.
The Federal Office of Justice said it would rule on extradition “within a few weeks” but confirmed its decisions “may be challenged before the Federal Criminal Court, as well as before the Federal Supreme Court, as the ultimate court of appeal”.
By INSIDER editor Mark Bisson
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