NEW YORK: The latest two former football powerbrokers arraigned in New York on FIFAGate corruption charges have both filed not guilty pleas.
Rafael Callejas, a 72-year-old former President of Honduras and a current member of the world football federation’s television and marketing committee, was ordered held without bail at a hearing in federal court in Brooklyn.
However a judge agreed to release former FIFA vice president Juan Angel Napout from Paraguay if he can secure a $20m bond with various restrictions, including electronic monitoring and home detention.
The two are among 41 people and corporations charged in the investigation estimated to focus on fraud concerning more than $200m in bribes and kickbacks.
Callejas, who was President of Honduras from 1990 to 1994, attended court on advice to surrender from his lawyers. Napout, a former president of CONMEBOL, had consented to extradition from Switzerland, where he was arrested on December 3.
Two more defendants are expected shortly in the United States. Nicolas Leoz, another Paraguayan former CONMEBOL leader, and Eduardo Li, former Costa Rica federation president, are both being extradited.
A Paraguay appeals court approved Leoz’s extradition while Li withdrew his objection after being among the ‘Zurich Seven’ who were detained two days before FIFA Congress last May 27.
Callejas is charged with taking bribes from Media World, an affiliate of Spain’s Imagina Group, so that the company could obtain media and marketing rights for qualifier matches ahead of the 2014, 2018 and 2022 World Cup tournaments.
Imagina has said it would cooperate fully with US authorities. It has suspended the chief executive of Media World and another employee.
The indictment also identified Napout as a member of the so-called ‘Group of Six’ who received annual bribes in exchange for supporting FIFA contracts with another marketing firm.