FIFA: first evidence handed to US authorities

Keywords: Corruption | Extradition

Press Release, FOJ, 30.12.2015

The Federal Office of Justice (FOJ) today handed over an initial package of evidence to the US authorities. Consisting of bank documents, the evidence will be used in criminal proceedings against high-ranking FIFA officials. It relates to bank accounts allegedly used for bribes connected with the grant of marketing rights to soccer tournaments in Latin America and the USA.

Further to a US request for legal assistance on 6 March 2015, as well as two supplementary requests on 21 April and 21 May 2015, the FOJ ordered the collection of a large volume of bank documents. These concern around 50 accounts with ten different banks, through which bribes to high-ranking FIFA officials are alleged to have been routed. The FOJ must examine whether or not there is a link between the bank documents in question and the offences set out in the request for legal assistance. It is also determining whether these documents are required to pursue criminal proceedings in the USA, for example to reconstruct the flow of funds between different accounts.

To date, the FOJ has issued five partial final rulings which each concerns the holder of one or more accounts with a particular bank. These final rulings were not challenged before the Federal Criminal Court within the 30-day appeal period, and have thus become legally enforceable. In one further case, simplified legal assistance proceedings could be conducted without the need for a final ruling because the account-holder agreed to the handover of the relevant documents. The FOJ was thus able to pass this evidence on to the US authorities today. This week the FOJ issued a further three partial final rulings, and others will follow.

The US authorities also requested the handover of records relating to the criminal proceedings against FIFA officials that were suspended in 2010, and to criminal proceedings against those in charge of the sports marketing company ISL. They believe that the findings of the Swiss action have a significant bearing on their own criminal proceedings. Further to a supplementary request for legal assistance submitted on 25 September 2015, the FOJ approved the presence of US officials when extensive criminal records were triaged under the lead of the Zug cantonal authorities. These records, which comprise some 50 A4 lever-arch files, are currently being reviewed by the FOJ to determine conclusively their relevance to the criminal proceedings in the USA.

Around USD 80 million frozen

In addition, the FOJ responded to the US request for legal assistance by freezing some USD 80 million in assets in 13 bank accounts. These assets will remain frozen until legal assistance proceedings have been concluded. In a second step, the US authorities can apply to have these assets handed over if they have a legally valid and enforceable seizure ruling from a US court.

Status of extradition proceedings

Three of the nine FIFA officials arrested in Zurich on 27 May and 3 December 2015 agreed to simplified proceedings permitting their extradition to the USA. Jeffrey Webb, José Maria Marin and Juan Angel Napout were handed over to the US authorities on 15 July, 3 November and 15 December respectively. Having withdrawn his appeal against the FOJ's ruling, Eduardo Li was extradited to the USA on 18 December. Furthermore, once the FOJ had decided to give priority to the Uruguayan rather than the US extradition request, Eugenio Figueredo could be extradited to Uruguay on 23/24 December. The other four individuals continue to oppose their extradition to the USA. The appeals of Julio Rocha, Costas Takkas and Rafael Esquivel against the extradition rulings of the FOJ are currently pending before the Federal Criminal Court. Meanwhile, for proceedings against Alfredo Hawit to continue, the formal US extradition request must reach the FOJ by 11 January 2016.

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