More arrests due in Fifa scandal, saw US law chief

UNITED States Attorney General Loretta Lynch has said she expects more arrests in a widening investigation of corruption implicating Fifa, world football’s governing body.

Swiss attorney general Michael Lauber and his US counterpart Loretta Lynch. Picture: AP
Swiss attorney general Michael Lauber and his US counterpart Loretta Lynch. Picture: AP
Swiss attorney general Michael Lauber and his US counterpart Loretta Lynch. Picture: AP

The investigation is focusing on the awarding of television broadcasting rights and is expected to widen out in the next couple of months.

Speaking yesterday at her first news conference since the high-profile arrests of seven people in May at a luxury hotel in Fifa’s home city of Zurich, Ms Lynch said: “We do anticipate pursuing additional charges against individuals and entities.”

Ms Lynch stressed that “no individual was above the law”.

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“Our message is clear: no individual is impervious to the law. No corrupt organisation is beyond its reach. And no criminal act can evade the concerted efforts of dedicated men and women fighting for justice,” she said.

Ms Lynch refused to comment on whether Sepp Blatter, the outgoing president of Fifa, was one of those being targeted, or if he faced arrest by travelling to a country which has an extradition treaty with the United States.

Blatter, who has said he would to step down from his post at the start of 2016, has remained in Switzerland since the allegations of corruption started in May.

“I’m not going to comment at this time on individuals who may or may not be the subject of the next round of arrests; therefore I’m not able to give you information about Mr Blatter’s travel plans,” Ms Lynch said.

Blatter has insisted he is “clean”, saying: “I have my conscience and I know I’m an honest man. I am clean. I am not a worried man.”

Two days before the Fifa presidential election on 29 May, Ms Lynch’s department of justice indicted 14 people, including nine current or former Fifa executives in a £100m bribery, fraud and money laundering scandal.

They are facing trial and another four individuals have pleaded guilty.

In a separate investigation into Fifa corruption, Swiss federal agencies have seized financial assets, including apartments, in the Swiss Alps.

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Swiss attorney general Michael Lauber revealed that houses had been searched and computer data is being analysed as part of the investigation into alleged corruption during the bidding process for the 2018 and 2022 World Cups.

The Swiss case could extend beyond the World Cup bids won by Russia and Qatar, respectively, as prosecutors sift through data and documents seized from Fifa in May and June.

Much of Fifa’s contracts and finances during Blatter’s 17-year presidency now seem open to investigation.

“We have a lot of facts at the moment out of house searches and out of the documents we received,” said Mr Lauber, when asked if he was studying an allegation that Blatter knowingly undersold World Cup television rights for the Caribbean in exchange for political support.

Lauber added that 121 different bank accounts have been reported as suspicious by a Swiss financial intelligence unit.