US indicts 14 officials in $100m Fifa corruption probe

The US Justice Department announced conspiracy and corruption charges on Wednesday against nine Fifa officials and five business executives, after Swiss authorities arrested seven suspects based on the indictments.

The Swiss justice ministry said earlier in a statement: “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 … and other functionaries of Fifa sub-organisations – totaling more than $100-million.”

The 14 officials and executives were charged with a bribery and kickback scheme that spanned a 24-year period. The Justice Department revealed four individuals and two companies have already pleaded guilty in the case rocking football’s world governing body.

“It spans at least two generations of soccer officials who, as alleged, have abused their positions of trust to acquire millions of dollars in bribes and kickbacks,” Attorney General Loretta Lynch said in the Justice Department statement about the charges.

At the same time as the indictments were unsealed, authorities raided the CONCACAF (The Confederation of North, Central America and Caribbean Association Football) soccer association headquarters in Miami as part of the case. The organisation co-ordinates the sport in North and Central America and the Caribbean.

According to the Justice Department, the defendants include Jeffrey Webb, Fifa vice president, executive committee member and CONCACAF president; Eduardo Li, Fifa executive committee member-elect and CONCACAF executive committee member; Julio Rocha, Fifa development officer; Costas Takkas, attache to the CONCACAF president; and Jack Warner, former Fifa vice president and ex-CONCACAF president.

Others are: Eugenio Figueredo, current Fifa vice president and executive committee member; Rafael Esquivel, current CONMEBOL executive committee member; Jose Maria Marin, current member of the Fifa organising committee for the Olympics; and Nicolas Leoz, former Fifa executive committee member.

The sports marketing executives charged include: Alejandro Burzaco, controlling principal of Torneos y Competencias S.A.; Aaron Davidson, president of Traffic Sports USA Inc.; and Hugo and Mariano Jinkis, controlling principals of Full Play Group S.A.

Defendant Jose Margulies was in the broadcasting business, but allegedly served as a payment intermediary, the Justice Department said.

The four who have pleaded guilty are: Daryll Warner, a former Fifa development officer and son of Jack Warner, the former CONCACAF president; Daryan Warner, who holds dual nationality from Trinidad and Tobago and Grenada; Charles Blazer, former CONCACAF general secretary and a former Fifa executive committee member; and Jose Hawilla, owner of the Brazilian sports marketing Traffic Group.

The seven arrested in Zurich are: Webb, Li, Rocha, Takkas, Figueredo, Esquivel and Marin. – AFP

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