(BERNE, SWITZERLAND) – On the instructions of the Federal Office of Justice FOJ, a further two FIFA officials were arrested in Zurich today. They are being held in custody pending their extradition. According to the US arrest requests, they are suspected of accepting bribes of millions of dollars.
The two FIFA officials were also given hearings by the Zurich cantonal police on the US arrest requests. They are opposing their extradition to the USA.
Alfredo Hawit and Juan Angel Napout and are currently in custody pending extradition.
Hawit is president of the Confederation of North, Central America, and Caribbean Association Football (CONCACAF) and vice-president of FIFA. He is an Honduran citizen.
Napout is president of the South American Football Confederation (CONMEBOL), a FIFA official, and a Paraguayan citizen.
The FOJ will now ask the USA to submit formal extradition requests within the 40-day deadline laid down in the bilateral extradition treaty. Extradition proceedings will be resumed as soon as these requests have been received. Until the FOJ, as the court of first instance, has issued its ruling, the persons concerned may still agree at any time to simplified extradition proceedings.
The detention orders issued by the FOJ are based on arrest requests submitted by the United States Department of Justice on 29 November. In the light of further investigations conducted by the United States Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of New York, these individuals are now also suspected of having received bribes.
The high-ranking FIFA officials are alleged to have taken the money in return for selling marketing rights in connection with football tournaments in Latin America, as well as World Cup qualifying matches. According to the arrest requests, some of the offences were agreed and prepared in the USA. Payments were also processed via US banks.
On behalf of the FOJ, the Zurich cantonal police will hold hearings on the US arrest requests before the end of today.
However, Hawit and Napout are opposing their extradition. The FOJ will ask the USA to submit a formal extradition request within the 40-day deadline, laid down in the bilateral extradition treaty.
Two of the seven former FIFA officials arrested in Zurich on 27 May 2015 agreed to simplified extradition proceedings. Jeffrey Webb and José Maria Marin were then transferred to the US authorities on 15 July and 3 November respectively.
However, the other five, Eugenio Figueredo, Eduardo Li, Julio Rocha, Costas Takkas, and Rafael Esquivel, oppose their extradition to the USA, and their appeals against the FOJ’s rulings are pending before the Federal Criminal Court.
Further to four US requests for mutual legal assistance in criminal matters, starting on 27 May 2015, the FOJ froze a series of accounts at Swiss banks through which it is alleged the bribes were routed. It has also obtained the corresponding banking documents.
To date, the FOJ has ordered the handover of such documents in five final partial rulings. The account-holders have 30 days in which to appeal against these rulings before the Federal Criminal Court.
Should the account-holder decide not to lodge an appeal, or if any such appeal is rejected by the Federal Criminal Court or the Federal Supreme Court, the final ruling becomes legally enforceable. Only then is the FOJ able to hand the evidence gathered in Switzerland over to the US authorities.