Thursday, December 3, 2015 4:40 pm
Swiss authorities said FIFA Vice Presidents, Juan Angel Napout and Alfredo Hawit were arrested on Thursday in a pre-dawn raid at a Zurich hotel where several others were taken into custody in late May.
The Swiss Federal Office of Justice (FOJ), said the arrests were carried out by Swiss authorities in the context of a U.S.-led investigation on charges of racketeering, money laundering and fraud.
It said that Honduras’ Hawit and Paraguay’s Napout “are opposing their extradition” and Swiss would now request formal extradition requests from the U.S.
The FOJ said in an earlier statement that according to the U.S. arrest requests, they are suspected of accepting bribes of millions of dollars.
“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 U.S. while payments were also processed via US banks’’, it said.
Police officers entered the posh Baur au Lac hotel through a side entrance at 06:00 local time (0500 GMT) and the detained were taken away in black limousines a few minutes later.
FIFA said in a statement it “is aware of the actions taken today by the U.S. Department of Justice.
FIFA pledged to continue to cooperate fully with the U.S. investigation as permitted by Swiss law, as well as with the investigation being led by the Swiss Office of the Attorney General.
“FIFA will have no further comment on today’s developments.”
The latest action came during a two-day meeting of the FIFA executive committee, which was completed without Hawit and Napout.
On May 27, two days before the FIFA Congress, Swiss police arrested seven officials as part of the U.S. probe.
They included then vice president Jeffrey Webb of the Cayman Islands and Brazil’s Jose Maria Marin who have since been transferred to the U.S.
The other five, Eugenio Figueredo, Eduardo Li, Julio Rocha, Costas Takkas and Rafael Esquivel, opposed their extradition to the U.S. and their appeals against the FOJ’s rulings are pending before the Federal Criminal Court.
The U.S. probe centres on the TV and marketing rights sales in the Americas and is not directly against FIFA.
The Swiss authorities are probing the ruling body in a separate investigation which centres on the awarding of the 2018 and 2022 World Cups.
The latter investigation is also directed against FIFA President Joseph Blatter on suspicion of mismanagement and having made a “disloyal payment” to UEFA chief Michel Platini in 2011 for FIFA work done between 1998 and 2002.
Blatter and Platini are both suspended over the issue and face sanctions from the ethics committee.
As a result, neither Blatter nor Platini were able to take part in the executive committee meetings Wednesday and Thursday.
Blatter was re-elected as president for a fifth term but said on June 2 he would step down at an extraordinary congress on February 26, when the reform package is also to be approved for good.