BERN: The Swiss justice department has ruled that Costas Takkas, former assistant to ex-CONCACAF president Jeffery Webb, can be extradited to the United States writes KEIR RADNEDGE.
Takkas is a former general secretary of the football federation of the Cayman Islands where Webb rose to football power. He was one of seven FIFA-linked men seized by Swiss police on May 27 at Zurich’s 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.
Takkas, according to a statement from the Swiss Federal Office of Justice, stands accused of “demanding and accepting bribes of millions of dollars for the president of CONCACAF [Webb] in connection with the sale of marketing rights for World Cup 2018 and 2022 qualifiers to a US sports marketing company.”
He has 30 days in which to appeal though he must submit notice on intention to do within five days. The only grounds for appeal concern serious concerns about being granted a fair trial abroad.
Takkas is the sixth of the original Zurich Seven approved for extradition. Webb, who denies all charges, did not contest extradition and is currently on bail in the United States.
So far the Swiss authorities have approved extradition applications for Eugenio Figueredo, a former FIFA vice-president and ex-president of South American confederation CONMEBOL, former FIFA exco member Eduardo Li (Costa Rica) and Rafael Esquivel (Venezuela).
A last decision is awaited on the extradition of Jose Maria Marin, former president of the Brazilian federation. Julio Rocha (ex-head of the Nicaraguan FA) has been approved for extradition to Nicaragua but the US authorities are claimed prior rights.
A statement from the Swiss authorities said that the initial arrest warrant for Takkas – a British citizen – 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.
In its extradition ruling, the FOJ concluded that all of the conditions for extradition had been fulfilled.
A statement explained: “Specifically, the facts laid down in the US extradition request are also punishable under Swiss law (the principle of dual criminality).
“According to the request, by accepting bribes for the award of sports marketing contracts, Takkas massively influenced the competitive situation and distorted the market for media rights in connection with the World Cup qualifying matches.
“Other sports marketing companies were placed at a disadvantage, and the affected football federations were prevented from negotiating more favourable marketing agreements. In Switzerland, such conduct would be deemed unfair practices under the Federal Act on Unfair Competition.”