Swiss Federal Office of Justice explains FIFA arrests

The Swiss Federal Office of Justice explains the legal proceedings concerning seven FIFA officials arrested in Zurich.

BERN, SWITZERLAND (MAY 27, 2015) (SWISS POOL) – The spokesman for the Swiss Federal of Justice, Folco Galli, on Wednesday (May 27) explained proceedings regarding the detention at the USA’s request of seven FIFA officials who were arrested at a hotel in Zurich earlier in the day.

At the same time, Swiss prosecutors said they had opened their own criminal proceedings against unidentified people on suspicion of mismanagement and money laundering related to the awarding of rights to host the 2018 World Cup in Russia and the 2022 event in Qatar.

Galli did not specify who was detained pending possible extradition, but the United States Department of Justice released the names of the seven arrested.

They are current FIFA vice-president and CONCACAF president Jeffrey Webb; FIFA executive committee member and Costa Rica Football Federation president Eduardo Li; Nicaragua Football Federation President Julio Rocha; former attaché to CONCACAF President Costas Takkas; another FIFA Vice-President Eugenio Figueredo; CONBEMOL Executive Member and Venezuela Football Federation president Rafael Esquivel; and former Brazilian Football Federation president Jose Maria Marin.

“U.S, authorities suspect them to have received bribery for more than 100 million (US) dollars,” Galli told reporters in Bern.

The world’s most popular sport was plunged into turmoil after U.S. and Swiss authorities announced separate inquiries into the activities of the game’s powerful governing body, FIFA.

U.S. authorities said nine soccer officials and five sports media and promotions executives faced corruption charges involving more than $150 million in bribes. In pursuit of the U.S. case, Swiss police arrested seven FIFA officials who are now awaiting extradition to the United States.

U.S. officials gave details of a case in which they said they exposed complex money laundering schemes, found millions of dollars in untaxed incomes and tens of millions in offshore accounts held by FIFA officials.

“It’s believed that bribery suspects received in return media, marketing and sponsoring rights in connection with soccer tournaments in the United States and Latin America,” Galli said

The FIFA officials appeared to have walked into a trap set by U.S. and Swiss authorities. The arrests were made at dawn at a plush Zurich hotel, the Baur au Lac, where FIFA officials are staying before a vote this week that is expected to anoint Sepp Blatter for a fifth term in office as FIFA president. Suites at the hotel cost up to $4,000 a night.

Galli explained those arrested could face extradition to the United States.

“These persons are now in detention in view of extradition and they will be heard today. They have the opportunity either to consent to a simplified extradition or to oppose to the extradition. In that case the Federal Office of Justice will ask the U.S. authorities to submit a formal request for extradition within 40 days.”

Galli added: “The identity of these people will be revealed after the publication by the US authorities.”