BERN: The Swiss Justice Department has ruled that Eugenio Figueredo, once one of the most powerful men in world football, can be extradited to the United States writes KEIR RADNEDGE.
Figueredo is a former president of the Uruguayan football federation and was still in place as a vice-president of FIFA and ex-head of the South American governing body, CONMEBOL, when he was arrested in a dawn swoop in Zurich on May 27.
Figueredo was one of seven FIFA-linked men seized by Swiss police at the Baur au Lac hotel acting on an extradition application from the US Department of Justice.
All faced charges of fraud, money laundering and conspiracy under an indictment alleging corruption concerning the misuse of more than $150m linked to international football tournaments in both North and South America.
Figueredo is accused have profited illegally from the sale of marketing rights to the Copa America of 2015, 2016, 2019 and 2023 to a Uruguayan sports marketing company. He is also accused of fraudulently having sought US citizenship in 2005 and 2006 through the use of fake medical reports.
A statement from the Justce Ministry in Bern said that the initial arrest warrant had been submitted on May 20 and the formal request for extradition on July 1 by the prosecution service for the East District of New York.
Extradition was justifiable because “all conditions” had been fulfilled, in particular because the criminal offences outlined by the US authorities were also punishable under Swiss law.
The statement added: “Figueredo massively influenced the [commercial] competition by accepting bribes for the award of sports marketing contracts and thus distorted the media rights market relating to the Copa America. This discriminated against other sports marketing companies.
“In Switzerland, this behaviour would constitute an offence as an unfair act in accordance with the federal law against unfair competition.
“As for the alleged use of fake medical reports as part of a naturalisation processm this would by punishable under the Swiss Penal Code as forgery.”
Figueredo may appeal within 30 days to the Federal Criminal Court but notice of an appeal must be lodged with the FOJ within five days. The only grounds for appeal concern serious concerns about being granted a fair trial abroad.
Jeffrey, another former vice-president of world federation FIFA and then head of CONCACAF, was the frst of the seven extradited after agreeing not to contest the application.
He is under arrest on bail in the US after pleading not guilty to all charges.