ZURICH: A senior Swiss banker who worked closely with senior FIFA figures is in detention in the United States, assumed to be helping the US Department of Justice in its FIFAGate corruption investigation writes KEIR RADNEDGE.
Argentinian Jorge Arzuaga, according to the Zurich finance news website InsideParadePlatz, was detained last autumn and has since been dismissed by the prestigious Swiss private bank Julius Bär.
The bank, which has been at the centre of Swiss investigations into the 2018-2022 World Cup bid scandal, risks significant consequences if the US authorities deem a level of corporate responsibility.
Arzuaga was suspended by Bar shortly after the initial arrests of seven senior FIFA-linked officials in Zurich last May 27. It is not known how he reached the United States. One report has speculated that he was arrested in Argentina and extradited to the US without anyone noticing.
Julio Grondona, for years FIFA’s senior vice-president and finance chairman until his death in July 2014, is considered to have been the most high-profile client of both Julius Bär and, hence, his compatriot Arzuaga.
Grondona approved and ordered the controversial $10m payment from FIFA, on behalf of the South Africa World Cup committee, to then CONCACAF president Jack Warner. The South Africans have insisted the money was development money while the US DoJ has claimed it was a bribe which Warner shared with his two CONCACAF colleagues on the FIFA executive committee (one of them being FBI whistleblower Chuck Blazer).
Apart from being Grondona’s banker, Arzuaga had previously headed up his own asset management operation in Argentina since 2005. IPP claimed it had worked closely with Clariden Leu, a private banking subsidiary of another major Swiss bank, Credit Suisse.
Arzuaga, 54, switched to rival Julius Bär in the spring of 2013.
A second Argentinian client of Arzuaga is thought to have been Alejandro Burzaco, the former head of the Argentinian marketing agency Torneos y Competencias (also known as TyC) which has been heavily implicated in the FIFAGate brivery allegations.
Burzaco was a target for Swiss police when, at the request of the US DoJ, they swooped on the Baur au Lac hotel in Zurich last May. But, while agents detained the likes of Jeffrey Webb, Jose Maria Marin and Co from their rooms, Burzaco was already down in the hotel breakfast room of the hotel. He fled immediately to Italy from where he agreed subsequently to be extradited to the US.
IPP has suggested that the controversial SFr2m ‘disloyal payment’ from FIFA on the authorisation of now-banned president Sepp Blatter to UEFA head Michel Platini in 2011 was made from a Julius Bär account.