NEW YORK: Time is threatening to become an issue in United States’ prosecutors’ attempts to the FIFAGate corruption investigation to court.
The problems in organising a way forward emerged as the court released statements from several defendants including one of regret from former vice-president Jeffrey Webb.
Last week, in Brooklyn, District Court Judge Raymond Dearie set an initial starting date for trial on February 27, 2017, but now he has conceded that this is not possible bevcause of the weight and complexity of evidence in a case linking 42 individuals and entities.
Simultaneously the US appears no nearer obtaining the extradition of nine wanted men including former FIFA vice-presidents Jack Warner and Nicolas Leoz from Trinidad and Paraguay respectively.
Indicted Brazilian football powerbrokers such as Marco Polo Del Nero (head of the CBF) and a predecessor, Ricardo Teixeira, cannot be extradited from Brazil because of a protective clause in the national constitution.
Dearie has now said: “As anxious as I am to move the case forward toward trial, ongoing discovery and related complications, including the relatively recent arrival of some defendants, make the selection of a trial date unrealistic at this time.”
The trial date issue would not be “revisited” until after June.
Robert Capers, an attorney for the Eastern District of New York said in a letter to the court: “Given the variability of the extradition process from country to country, the US Department of Justice’s Office of International Affairs generally does not make estimates [concerning outcome].”
In papers released this week Jeffrey Webb, the Cayman Islands banker who is former president of CONCACAF , expressed his regrets at his wrongdoing.
Webb stated: “I abused my position to obtain bribes and kickbacks for my personal benefit . . . I deeply regret my participation in this illegal conduct.”
He said he was told in 2012 that sports marketing companies would offer “side payments” or bribes in exchange for commercial rights to soccer matches. He added: “I believed that such offers were common in this business.”
Webb confessed to receiving bribes for the sale of commercial rights for 2018 and 2022 World Cup qualifying matches, and in 2012, 2013 and 2014, including for the Copa America Centenario tournament, which will be held in June.
Alejandro Burzaco, Rafael Callejas, Alfredo Hawit, Jose Margulies and Jeffrey Webb,
Not guilty pleas have been submitted by:
Aaron Davidson, Rafael Esquivel, Brayan Jimenez, Eduardo Li, Jose Maria Marin, Juan Angel Napout, Costas Takkas and Hector Trujillo.
Sentencing dates for early guilty pleas are awaited for:
Daryll Warner, Daryan Warner, Charles ‘Chuck’ Blazer, Jose Hawilla, Zorana Danis, Fabio Tordin, Luis Bedoya, Sergio Jadue, Roger Huguet and Miguel Trujillo.