NEW YORK: Jose Maria Marin has exchanged detention in a Swiss prison for life in his luxury apartment in Trump Tower on New York’s Fifth Avenue after being extradited and bailed in the FIFAGate scandal writes KEIR RADNEDGE.
Ironically the ‘home from home’ for the ex-president of the Brazilian football confederation is the same block from which Chuck Blazer fell from grace 18 months ago, triggering the Justice Department investigation which has had such a dramatic impact on the governance of the game in the world in general and the Americas in particular.
Marin agreed on Monday to his extradition from Switzerland where he had been held in solitary confinement since being arrested at the Baur au Lac hotel in Zurich on May 27 along with six other senior football officials.
Jeffrey Webb, the Cayman Islander who was a FIFA vice-president and head of CONCACAF, had preceded him in agreeing to extradition and being bailed in New York. The remaining five members or the ‘Zurich Seven’ are appealing against extradition orders.
Marin, 83, who headed Brazil’s preparations to host the 2014 World Cup while president of the Brazilian Football Confederation, had bail set at $15m and a judge ordered him placed under house arrest. He entered his plea through an interpreter before US District Judge Raymond Dearie in Brooklyn.
Marin appeared to have trouble standing during the hearing, which Dearie paused briefly to ask if he were feeling well.
US authorities accused Marin of being among several high-ranking soccer officials who were due to receive $110m in bribes in exchange for the media rights for regional tournaments. At least $40m had been paid out when the charges were laid.
The indictment also links Marin to a scheme to receive bribes for the commercial rights associated with the Copa do Brasil, an annual tournament for Brazil’s top club teams.
Blazer, who has pleaded guilty to corruption charges, was long-serving general secretary of CONCACAF until being ‘turned’ by the IRS and FBI. Not only did he have apartments of his own in Trump Tower but CONCACAF’s head offices were also in the same block.