ASUNCION, (Reuters) – Paraguay’s president ratified a new law stripping the headquarters of South America’s CONMEBOL soccer confederation of its immunity, paving the way for possible police raids on the complex as the investigation into graft in world soccer deepens. President Horacio Cartes’ endorsement of the legislation was published in Paraguay’s official gazette yesterday. Officials from CONMEBOL were not immediately available for comment.
The law to revoke immunity was first presented to Congress days after U.S. Justice Department officials indicted 14 current and former football officials and corporate executives on a raft of corruption charges.
Among those indicted was Nicolas Leoz, a Paraguayan national and former president of CONMEBOL, and Uruguayan Eugenio Figueredo, who ran CONMEBOL for a year after Leoz. They and other top officials in Latin American soccer are accused of involvement in a criminal enterprise involving more than $150 million in bribes. The quasi-diplomatic status was granted to the sprawling 98-acre (40-hectare) complex by the government in 1997 and had prevented police and prosecutors from conducting searches of it.