United States asks Swiss to extradite 7 in FIFA probe

ZURICH, (Reuters) – The United States asked Switzerland to extradite seven FIFA officials arrested in an investigation into a global bribery scandal at soccer’s governing body, the Swiss Federal Office of Justice (FOJ) said today.

The officials, including two then members of FIFA’s executive committee, have been in jail since being detained on U.S. arrest warrants in a raid on a luxury Zurich hotel on May 27.

The arrests took place two days before FIFA’s annual congress, throwing the organisation into turmoil.

U.S. prosecutors say their investigation – which is running parallel to a separate Swiss probe – exposes complex money laundering schemes, millions of dollars in untaxed incomes and tens of millions in offshore accounts held by FIFA officials.

The seven were among 14 people charged in cases involving more than $150 million in bribes over a period of 24 years.

The FOJ said it would rule on the extradition requests within a few weeks, based on statutory hearings and the responses of the FIFA officials.

Under a bilateral treaty, U.S. authorities had up to 40 days to file an extradition request, which all seven of the officials had previously said they would contest.

Proceedings under the treaty are relatively straightforward, even if the defendants have the right to appeal along the way, legal experts say.

The seven include the former president of FIFA’s Americas confederation CONCACAF, Jeffrey Webb, and Eugenio Figueredo, who sat on the executive at the time of their arrest.

The detainees were provisionally banned by FIFA’s own ethics committee following the arrests. FIFA has said that it is cooperating with the investigation.

A Swiss court last month rejected one official’s request to be released on bail, citing the risk he might flee.

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